Postgame analysis of the Nats' 6-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Monday afternoon at Nationals Park.
How it happened: Needing a boost on offense after scoring just two runs in their previous two games, and with five of their regular starters out of the lineup, the Nats got a spark from a place that has become a familiar source of energy over the last month-plus: the top of their lineup. More specifically, they got a lift from Trea Turner, who despite being a rookie has emerged as one of their most dangerous and consistent players.
Turner did what Turner does. He got three hits, one a double and one a two-run homer. That led the charge for a Nats' lineup that saw an all-around effort from a host of back-ups beyond their young center fielder.
Chris Heisey mashed a three-run homer in the third inning, the same frame as Turner's. Ben Revere doubled and scored. Jose Lobaton had two hits and a run. Brian Goodwin singled and Clint Robinson walked. Those guys filled in for Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and others and all of them contributed to the win.
Max Scherzer didn't have his best stuff, but it didn't matter much against the lowly Braves. The Nats ace went seven innings with just two runs allowed. The two runs were both driven in by Braves second baseman Jace Peterson. Peterson landed an RBI double in the first inning and scored another on a fielder's choice grounder in the sixth.
The Braves got their third and fourth runs in the ninth off Mark Melancon. The first came on an infield single by Freddie Freeman, the second was on a Matt Kemp double-play groundball.
The Nationals bounced back from two consecutive losses to the Mets with Monday's win. With their loss, the Braves were officially eliminated from NL East contention.
What it means: The Nats moved to 80-57 on the year and 12-2 against the Braves. The Mets beat the Reds earlier in the day, so the Nats' lead in the NL East remains 8 1/2 games. They did, however, drop their magic number to 17.
Turner gets three hits: The NL Rookie of the Month for August just had his best game of September so far. Monday was the 23rd multi-hit game for Turner in 48 total outings, 45 of those starts. It was the eighth time he's had three hits or more. Turner has hits in 36 of 44 games since the All-Star break. The Nats will certainly take that from their leadoff hitter.
Scherzer continues recent tear: Scherzer allowed seven hits and two walks, but limited the damage several times to put in another solid start. Scherzer has now allowed just four earned runs across 23 innings in his last three starts. The right-hander walked off the mound with a 2.88 ERA and earned his 16th win of the season. Scherzer ended up throwing 107 pitches despite pitching with a healthy lead for much of the game. He had 99 through six frames, but the Nats sent him back out for the seventh. It might have been unnecessary, but it worked out.
Heisey hits No. 9: Much like earlier this season, Heisey is back to hitting a lot of homers, especially for a bench player. He has home runs in each of the last three games he's started and in four of his last six. His nine homers on the season are the most he's clubbed since 2013 when he was with the Reds. No wonder manager Dusty Baker - who coached him in Cincinnati - wanted to keep Heisey on the roster.
Heisey has homered once every 14 at-bats this season. That's best rate on the Nationals and, if he had enough plate appearances to qualify, would rank second in baseball behind only Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo, who has hit a homer in every 12.7 AB this year.
Up next: The Nats and Braves continue their series with a 7:05 p.m. start on Tuesday night. Lefty Gio Gonzalez (10-9, 4.14) will square off with right-hander Williams Perez (2-2, 4.62).
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