Game in a nutshell: Apparently, the Nationals' scoring barrage this week wasn't entirely a product of Coors Field. Those bats were nearly as hot here in Atlanta, leading to a 15-hit night. Michael Morse led the charge with four hits, Ryan Zimmerman added two of his own, Ian Desmond chimed in with a two-run double and Jesus Flores clubbed a solo homer. That all put Ross Detwiler in position to earn the win, but the left-hander (after six dominant innings) crumbled in the seventh, giving all four runs back (the final two on Andrelton Simmons' homer). No worries, because Morse immediately responded with a homer off Chad Durbin in the top of the eighth, and Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard finished things off to seal a tense victory and give the Nationals a 4 12-game lead over the Braves.
Hitting highlight: What's been the key to the Nationals' sudden resurgence at the plate? How about the resurgence of Morse as a bonafide, middle-of-the-order threat? With a 4-for-4 showing tonight, Morse now has 12 hits in his last 19 at-bats. During that span, he's raised his batting average from .217 to .294. All along, the Nationals have insisted Morse just needed to see more pitches and get his timing down after missing three months with a torn lat muscle. Looks like he's got that timing down pat now, much to his team's delight.
Pitching highlightlowlight: For six innings, Detwiler was brilliant, perhaps as good as he's ever been. The left-hander was efficient (only 74 pitches to record 18 outs) and even showed some intestinal fortitude in pitching his way out of a fifth-inning jam. But then came a Stage 3 meltdown in the bottom of the seventh. Detwiler plunked Freddie Freeman. He couldn't field a comebacker from Jack Wilson. He was charged with a balk. He served up an RBI single to Martin Prado. He allowed a sacrifice fly to Michael Bourn. And then he made the biggest mistake of all: a fat, 1-2 curveball to Simmons that landed in the bleachers and tied the game 4-4. Detwiler, who has completed seven innings in only two of 56 career starts, hunched over and put his hands on knees in disgust.
Key stat: In 255 career games against the ExposNationals franchise, Chipper Jones has hit 40 homers with 60 doubles and 154 RBI.
Up next: The temperature might reach 105 degrees when Stephen Strasburg and Mike Minor take the mound at 4:05 p.m. Saturday for the second game of this series. When's the last time Strasburg pitched in anything resembling normal weather?