The Washington Nationals play the middle contest of a three-game series Wednesday at Atlanta, providing Trea Turner with another opportunity to continue tormenting Braves pitching. The Nationals shortstop went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, one RBI and two stolen bases in Tuesday’s series-opening 4-2 victory, raising his career average against the Braves to .409 in 29 games with 31 runs scored, 23 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.
Washington’s offense, which struggled recently before breaking out with seven runs in Sunday’s victory over the Dodgers, finished with 11 hits in the opener despite second baseman Daniel Murphy being scratched from the lineup with left hamstring tightness. Ryan Zimmerman surpassed the 100-RBI mark for the first time since 2009, finishing with three hits. Atlanta opened a stretch of 14 games in 13 days by losing for the fourth time in the past five games, ensuring its fourth consecutive sub-.500 season. Shortstop Dansby Swanson is hitting .313 in his past 35 games with 13 RBIs after doubling home a run Tuesday.
TV: 7:35 p.m. ET, MASN 2 (Washington), FSN Southeast (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals LH Gio Gonzalez (14-7, 2.68 ERA) vs. Braves RH Lucas Sims (2-5, 5.52)
Gonzalez has rebounded from a subpar 2016 to again establish himself as one of the top left-handers in the National League, despite losing two of his past three starts. He gave up five runs in both of those defeats, including a five-inning appearance against the Braves on Sept. 12 in which he struck out eight but surrendered seven hits. Gonzalez has won 10 of his 15 road starts this season, and is 7-3 with a 2.40 ERA and a 1.037 WHIP since the All-Star break.
Sims made his major-league debut on Aug. 1, and after losing his first three starts won two of his next four before Atlanta sent him to the bullpen. In four relief appearances, the 23-year-old posted a 4.26 ERA with two scoreless appearances and three runs allowed in total across 6 1/3 innings. Sims has made one appearance against the Nationals, a relief outing on Sept. 13 in which he struck out one in a perfect inning.
1. Braves CF Ender Inciarte left Tuesday’s game in the fourth inning with left thumb soreness and is considered day-to-day; Inciarte injured the thumb last week in Washington.
2. Nationals RF Bryce Harper took part in a simulated game before Tuesday’s contest as he continues to rehab from a left knee bruise.
3. Atlanta C Tyler Flowers (bruised left hand) took batting practice Tuesday, but the team said he still is a few days away from returning to the lineup.
PREDICTION: Nationals 5, Braves 2