Upton brothers power Braves to 6-3 win over Nationals
ATLANTA - This is the sort of offense the Atlanta Braves envisioned when they acquired brothers B.J. and Justin Upton a year ago.
The Upton brothers combined for five hits, 10 total bases, three runs and two RBIs on Saturday to help the Braves beat the N.L. East rival Washington Nationals 6-3.
Center fielder B.J. Upton had his second multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with his first homer of the year. Left fielder Justin Upton was 3-for-4, his career-best third straight three-hit game, with two doubles.
“B.J. had four good at-bats and Justin keeps swinging the bat,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Added Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman, “Justin is on fire. It’s fun to watch. The one out he made was a line drive. He’s just putting us on his back and carrying us.”
The win, the second straight for the Braves, put Atlanta into a tie with Washington for first place in the division. Atlanta has won four of five against Washington.
The game was especially costly to the Nationals, who lost slugging third baseman Ryan Zimmerman for four to six weeks with a fractured right thumb.
“It is what it is,” said Nationals manager Matt Williams. “No one is going to feel sorry for us. We’ve got to play.”
In the fifth, Zimmerman was picked off second by pitcher Alex Wood. Zimmerman jammed his right thumb into the base while trying to retreat and immediately left the game. Zimmerman was batting .364 with two homers.
The winning pitcher was Wood (2-1), who was lifted after throwing 103 pitches over five innings. The left-hander allowed six hits and walked three, but struck out seven and gave up only one run.
“I somehow managed to get through five,” Wood said. “Don’t ask me how. That pickoff was big. It kept me in the game.”
Losing pitcher Taylor Jordan (0-1) allowed 10 hits and five runs over five innings.
“He had to pitch for us tonight,” Williams said. “He settled down and got us to (the bullpen).”
Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out one to earn his fifth save in five tries.
“We just persevered,” Gonzalez said. “Woody wasn’t as sharp as he has been, but we swung the bats enough and got him a nice cushion.”
Washington got a quick run when second baseman Anthony Rendon led off the game with a long home run to right-center. Batting first for the second time this season, Rendon hit a 2-2 pitch for his first career leadoff homer and his second homer of the season.
The lead didn’t last long. The Braves answered with four runs in the bottom half of the first, starting with center fielder B.J. Upton’s first homer since Aug. 13.
Freeman singled and scored on a two-out double by left fielder Justin Upton. Second baseman Dan Uggla then broke a 0-for-11 streak with a sharp single to left that drove in Upton, his first of two RBIs. Catcher Evan Gattis, who had three hits, drove home Uggla with a double to the gap in left-center.
“Some guys like to pitch with the lead and some guys don‘t, but I’ll take my chances with a big number the first time to hit,” Gonzalez said.
Washington had 11 hits but left 11 runners on base. The Nats were 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
“We created chances,” Williams said. “We’ll take that every day if we have the opportunity. The fact that we’re doing that is a good thing.”
NOTES: Washington recalled RHP Blake Treinen and OF Steven Souza Jr. from Triple-A Syracuse. To make room, they optioned RHP Aaron Barrett to Syracuse and placed OF Denard Span on the seven-day DL with a concussion. Span suffered a mild concussion when he collided with Atlanta 2B Dan Uggla while rounding the bases in the eighth inning of Friday’s game. To make room for Treinen on the 40-man roster the Nats recalled INF/OF Jeff Kobernus from Syracuse and placed him on the 60-day DL (left hand fracture). OF Jayson Werth did not start Saturday’s game with groin tightness. He left Friday’s game in the 10th inning when he complained of discomfort. He was able to pinch hit in the eighth inning and delivered a single. ... Atlanta SS Andrelton Simmons returned to the starting lineup after missing two games with a sprained wrist. ... Washington lost the third-inning appeal of an out call at first base. Manager Matt Williams contended that RF Nate McLouth beat the throw to first on a sacrifice bunt, but the umpires upheld the call after a video review. ... Atlanta had double-digit hits for the second time this season.