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Instant Analysis: Brewers 4, Nats 2

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Instant Analysis: Brewers 4, Nats 2

Game in a nutshell: Two innings into this one, it looked like we might be in for a slugfest. Adam LaRoche launched a two-run homer in the bottom of the first off Shaun Marcum. Jonathan Lucroy then responded with a solo homer in the top of the second off Edwin Jackson. Long night for the pitching staffs? Actually, no. Both Jackson and Marcum dominated after that, with Jackson getting the edge thanks in no small part to some stellar defense behind him. Bryce Harper nailed Ryan Braun at the plate with a perfect throw in the top of the fourth. Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond combined to turn a nifty, 4-6-3 double play moments later to end that inning. And Jesus Flores made perhaps his best throw of the year to catch Jean Segura trying to steal second in the top of the eighth, capping a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play that brought a roar from the crowd of 30,382. Those roars, though, turned to boos in the ninth inning when Tyler Clippard (whose hold on the closer's job was already tenuous) blew his fifth save of the year, letting the Brewers rally to score the tying run, the go-ahead run and an insurance run in stunning fashion. The Nationals couldn't rally in the bottom of the ninth, so they wound up suffering one of their more frustrating losses of the season. On the bright side, the Braves lost in Philadelphia, so the Nationals' lead in the NL East remains 5 12 games and their magic number to clinch the division title is down to 7.

Hitting highlight: They got the early blast from LaRoche, and little did the Nationals know they wouldn't get anything else the rest of the night. Good thing LaRoche got a hold of a changeup from Marcum in the bottom of the first inning and crushed it off the back wall of the right-field bullpen. Even better that Ryan Zimmerman was on base at the time, making it a 2-run blast. That gives LaRoche 31 homers for the season (one shy of his career high) and 96 RBI for the season (four shy of his career high).

Pitching lowlight: When Davey Johnson revealed this afternoon he planned to divide save opportunities between Clippard and Drew Storen, you had to wonder how Clippard would respond. Johnson wasted no time giving him another opportunity, handing him a 2-1 lead in the ninth. It wasn't really Clippard's fault he got into quick trouble: Norichika Aoki put down a perfect bunt to open the inning, then took second on Flores' passed ball. But what happened after that was Clippard's fault. Braun singled home the tying run. Aramis Ramirez doubled home the go-ahead run. Throw in a wild pitch for good measure, and Clippard stunningly was given the hook in mid-inning and booed as he walked back to the dugout.

Key stat: Nationals pitchers who have won 10 or more games in a season: Livan Hernandez (15 in 2005, 10 in 2010), Esteban Loaiza (12 in 2005), Ramon Ortiz (11 in 2006), Tim Redding (10 in 2008), Tyler Clippard (11 in 2010), John Lannan (10 in 2011), Gio Gonzalez (19 in 2012), Stephen Strasburg (15 in 2012), Jordan Zimmermann (11 in 2012) and Ross Detwiler (10 in 2012).

Up next: The series continues with a Saturday matinee at Nationals Park. Gio Gonzalez will once again be in search of his 20th win when he faces right-hander Wily Peralta at 1:05 p.m.

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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3

ATLANTA -- Josh Donaldson's bases-loaded single off Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning lifted the Atlanta Braves over the Washington Nationals 4-3 on Friday night after Luke Jackson allowed a tying, two-run homer to Victor Robles in the top half.

Ronald Acuna Jr., who had three hits, led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk off Rodney (0-3) and took second on Dansby Swanson's single. Freddie Freeman walked on four pitches, loading the bases.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez brought in left fielder Juan Soto as a fifth infielder, including three on the left side against the right-handed hitting Donaldson.

Donaldson hit a 2-0 pitch over Robles to center-field warning track, and the Braves boosted their NL East lead to 6 games over the second-place Nationals. Atlanta had lost its previous five home games against Washington.

Robles' homer went 446 feet to left, giving Jackson his seventh blown save in 24 chances.

Julio Teheran gave up one hit through five scoreless innings and retired 14 consecutive hitters before pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra singled with one out in the sixth. Anthony Rendon chased Teheran with a two-out RBI single.

Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin couldn't win on his 30th birthday while paired with catcher Yan Gomes, who turned 32. Corbin and Gomes became only the second pitcher-catcher tandem to start together on their birthdays since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Chicago Cubs pitcher Dave Hillman and catcher Jim Fanning did it against Pittsburgh on Sept. 14, 1957.

Corbin allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out Ozzie Albies with the bases loaded in the first and fanned Albies to end the fifth with two out.

Albies hit a two-out double in the fourth and scored on Austin Riley's double. Freeman was 2 for 20 in his career against Corbin before his RBI single in the fifth.

Acuna's RBI double against Tanner Rainey gave the Braves a 3-1 lead.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer, on the 10-day IL since July 10 with an injury originally announced as a mid-back strain, was given a cortisone shot on Tuesday to address inflammation in the bursa sac under his right shoulder blade. Scherzer still has some discomfort and must throw a bullpen session before cleared to pitch in a game. With Scherzer unavailable, RHP Austin Voth is expected to start in Sunday night's series finale.

Braves: RHP Patrick Weigel, who had Tommy John surgery in 2017, was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to make his major league debut Saturday. RHP Wes Parsons also was recalled from Gwinnett. RHPs Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint were optioned to Gwinnett.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-6, 3.71) is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts this season against the Braves, his former team.

Braves: Rookie RHP Mike Soroka (10-1, 2.24) will try to win his sixth straight decision on Saturday night. The 21-year-old right-hander became the youngest pitcher in franchise history to be selected an All-Star.

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Nationals to introduce 'Kids Eat Free' program for the rest of the summer

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Nationals to introduce 'Kids Eat Free' program for the rest of the summer

What's better than spending a summer evening at a baseball game? Spending a summer evening at a baseball game and getting free food, that's what!

From July 22 to September 2, the Nationals are introducing a "Kids Eat Free" program, allowing any member of the Jr. Nats Kids Club age 12 or under to get a free meal at a Nats home game.

The meal includes a hot dog, the choice of chips or applesauce, and a soda or bottled water. According to the Nats, the meal is a $17 value. 

“We’re trying to find ways to make our experience as family-friendly as possible,” Nationals EVP of business operations Jake Burns told Front Office Sports. “This idea was borne out of brainstorming of things we could do to get families in the door or provide a better experience to existing families, and we found a way to attract new fans to the ballpark and strengthen the relationship with those existing fans.” 

Take your kids out to the ballpark, folks. You get to introduce them to America's pastime and save some money!

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