Dickey dazzles Nationals in Braves’ win
ATLANTA — Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey got back on track after a rough three-start stretch, and also snapped a five-game losing streak to the Washington Nationals dating to 2012.
Dickey allowed four hits and walked none over eight innings, and Arodys Vizcaino, who had a three-walk meltdown the day before, got the save as the Atlanta Braves edged the Nationals 3-2 on Thursday night.
Dickey (10-10) had allowed 17 runs (16 earned) over 14 1/3 innings in his previous three September starts, but gave up only a second-inning homer to Ryan Zimmerman and an eighth-inning run Thursday.
“After the last three, I’ve been getting out there between outings and trying to figure it out,” the 42-year-old Dickey said. “This pitch kind of comes and goes sometimes. You’ve got to live with that.
“We figured a couple things out and (the knuckleball) was consistent all night long. There were only two pitches out of 94 I would have wanted back.”
Vizcaino also had a bounce-back outing, striking out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning for his 12th save after walking in three runs in the eighth inning on Wednesday.
“That was a great job by Viz of separating (the outings),” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “In that role, you’ve got to have a short memory. “
The Nationals (92-60) made it a one-run game in the eighth inning as Anthony Rendon led off with a double and scored on Matt Wieters’ two-out single.
The only Nationals hitter to reach after Zimmerman’s homer until the eighth was Trea Turner in the third on a single, and he was picked off.
The homer by Zimmerman gave him a career-high 34 and was his third in the past four games.
Nationals starter Tanner Roark (13-10) allowed six hits and three runs in seven innings, striking out seven and walking none in his fifth straight quality start.
“He was throwing the ball great, but Dickey was throwing the ball good, too,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “Tanner certainly pitched good enough to win. We just didn’t get it done.”
Roark came in with a 6-2 career record against the Braves (68-83) and had beaten them in Washington last week.
“Facing these guys back-to-back when they are already a good hitting team, that’s a challenge in itself,” Roark said. “You can’t divert from the game plan and they already know what you did to them the last time. You just have to trust your stuff and execute.”
Ender Inciarte led off the game for the Braves with a triple and scored on a single by Ozzie Albies, who showed no ill effects from being hit on the left knee by a pitch the previous night.
Zimmerman matched that run for the Nationals by taking Dickey deep leading off the second. He barreled a knuckleball floating up and in, smashing a screaming liner down the left field line and into the seats.
“Zim’s had a great year,” Baker said. “Now he has to keep it up.”
The Braves went up 3-1 with two runs in the fourth off Roark, who allowed four hits in the inning. Freddie Freeman hit a sacrifice fly, and Johan Camargo delivered an RBI single.
Albies had three hits after coming into the game in an 0-for-14 slump, and the Braves bounced back to salvage the finale of the series after the bullpen gave up six runs in the eighth inning a day earlier.
“It was good to see the guys bounce back after that game last night,” Snitker said.
NOTES: The game was played in 2:18, the fastest game of the season at SunTrust Park. ... CF Ender Inciarte, who sat out Wednesday to rest a sore left thumb, is trying to become the first Braves player with 200 hits since Marquis Grissom in 1996. He has 191 hits. ... Braves C Tyler Flowers was in the lineup for the first time since being hit on the left wrist by a pitch Sept. 13. He went 0-for-3. ... The Nationals won the season series 10-9, but the Braves had their most wins against Washington since 2014. ... The Nationals play a weekend series in New York against the Mets and then have three games in Philadelphia to conclude their nine-game road trip. ... Washington’s 47-28 road record in the best in the National League. ... The Braves end their home schedule in the first year at SunTrust Park with a weekend series against the Phillies.