Washington right-hander Anibal Sanchez slowed down the Atlanta bats with seven scoreless innings as the Nationals beat the visiting Braves 7-0 on Sunday.
Sanchez (9-8) allowed only three hits and one walk, striking out three. He improved to 3-0 in five starts against Atlanta this season.
The victory allowed Washington (82-66) to salvage a game from the three-game series against the Braves (93-58), who hold a 9 1/2-game lead over the Nationals in the National League East. Washington entered Sunday with a 1 1/2-game lead in the race for the first NL wild-card spot.
Washington produced 10 hits and was led by Howie Kendrick, who went 3-for-4 with a homer, scored twice and drove in three runs. Victor Robles added two hits, including a double, and made a great catch in center field to rob pinch hitter Adeiny Hechavarria of extra bases in the ninth.
Hunter Strickland allowed one hit in a scoreless eighth, and Sean Doolittle worked a scoreless ninth to finish the game for Washington.
Atlanta starter Max Fried (16-6) was knocked out after 2 1/3 innings. He gave up five runs on six hits, with three walks and two strikeouts. He has lost his last two decisions since tossing seven shutouts innings on Sept. 5 against the Nationals.
The Braves jumped on Fried for two runs in the second inning on Yan Gomes’ two-run single.
Kendrick singled in a pair of runs in the third inning off Fried, and Robles drew a bases-loaded walk against reliever Jeremy Walker to extend Washington’s lead to 5-0.
Kendrick slapped a solo homer, his 15th, off reliever Grant Dayton in the fifth.
The Nationals tacked on another run in the sixth when Adam Eaton grounded into a rare 3-6-5 double play, with Robles crossing the plate before the play was completed.
Atlanta right fielder Matt Joyce was ejected in the fifth inning after arguing a called third strike.
—Field Level Media