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Fister's rough inning leads to Nats' 4-1 loss to Braves

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Fister's rough inning leads to Nats' 4-1 loss to Braves

By CHARLES ODUM

ATLANTA (AP) -- A.J. Pierzynski and Juan Uribe hit back-to-back homers in a four-run fourth inning and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 4-1 on Wednesday night to end a streak of nine straight losses in the season series.

Rookie Matt Wisler allowed one hit in 5 1-3 scoreless innings to make up for a loss to the Nationals in his last start. Wisler had a run-scoring single in the big fourth inning, his first career hit.

Wisler (2-1) overcame five walks in his rematch against Nationals' right-hander Doug Fister (3-4), who allowed four runs in six innings.

Pierzynski hit a two-run homer to right field off Fister before Uribe followed with his shot over the wall in center.

The start of the game was delayed 2 hours, 9 minutes by rain.

The Braves beat Washington for the first time since the opening game of the season series on April 27 -- also against Fister.

Wisler and five relievers combined to allow only four hits. Jason Grilli had two strikeouts in a perfect ninth for his 22nd save.

The Nationals had runners on first and third with one out in the third and sixth innings. Each time the inning ended with a double-play grounder -- from Yunel Escobar in the third and Wilson Ramos in the sixth.

Denard Span's single off Nick Masset drove in Ian Desmond in the seventh. With two outs and runners on first and third, David Aardsma struck out Danny Espinosa.

The Nationals took only their second loss in their last 11 games, a span that included sweeps of the Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Braves sent nine batters to the plate in the four-run fourth. Cameron Maybin singled, stole second and scored on Pierzynski's fifth homer. Uribe's homer gave Atlanta back-to-back homers for the first time since April 15 against Miami.

Kelly Johnson had an infield hit and scored from second on Wisler's dribbler through the hole into right field.

HUSTLE FOR HARPER

Nationals manager Matt Williams said before the game he spoke with OF Bryce Harper about not running hard to first base on a fly ball in Tuesday night's win.

"I spoke to him today," Williams said. "It's important for him to be passionate about the way he plays. In every aspect. ... He'll be out there again today and I guarantee if he hits one in the gap he'll go hard."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman (left foot plantar fasciitis) hit and fielded grounders but still has some soreness and wasn't ready to run the bases as he continued his rehab with Class A Potomac. "He's progressing. It's still there," Williams said.

Braves: 1B Freddie Freeman (bruised right wrist) is scheduled for more treatment on Thursday. Freeman is eligible to come off the 15-day DL on Friday but is expected to need more recovery time.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer will face the Braves for the first time since joining the Nationals. Scherzer was 1-2 in six games, including four starts, against the Braves while pitching for Arizona and Detroit.

Braves: LHP Manny Banuelos is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett for his major league debut. Banuelos is 6-2 with a 2.29 ERA at Gwinnett.

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

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USA Today Sports

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

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Saturday's Nationals game rained out, to be postponed

Following a dicey matchup between the Nats and Braves Friday night which featured a heated argument between Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals are getting a much-needed opportunity to regroup.

The Washington Nationals' official Twitter account announced that Saturday evening's matchup will be postponed due to inclement weather just after 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

The Nationals had planned to host "JMU Night" at the ballpark as a part of their "College Day" series, and due to more forecasted inclement weather Sunday, the Nationals decided to call the game off sooner rather than later.

The Nationals have yet to announce when the game will be made up.

If Sunday's game is played as scheduled, Max Scherzer will start.

This post will be updated when more information regarding a makeup date has been announced.

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