Friday, August 12, 2016

Freeman, Braves rock Strasburg, Nationals

 Freddie Freeman showed why he is a nemesis to the Nationals on Friday night. He homered and drove in four runs to lead the Braves to an 8-5 win at Nationals Park.
Right-hander Stephen Strasburg started for Washington and had his worst outing of the year, allowing a season-high six runs in 5 1/3 innings, and he was denied his 16th victory of the season.
"We've faced some pretty good pitching over the course of the summer," Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said after his team won for the 11th time in the past 16 games. "But the guys are never down and they're never out. They've been beat over the head for the majority of the season, but they come, they prepare, they grind out at-bats and leave it all out on the field. The record is no indication of how I feel this team is or how those guys play."
Despite the loss, Jayson Werth reached base for the 41st consecutive game with a seventh-inning RBI double. Werth is two short of the Nationals record set by Ryan Zimmerman in 2009.
Freeman got the Braves on the board in the first inning with an RBI double. An inning later,Jace Peterson gave Atlanta a 2-0 lead with his sixth home run.
"It was too much Freddie Freeman. He has had a tremendous amount of success in this ballpark and it continued tonight," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.
By the fourth inning, however, the Nationals took a 3-2 lead against right-hander Mike FoltynewiczAnthony Rendon highlighted the scoring with a two-run homer. But Atlanta retook the lead in the fifth, when Foltynewicz delivered a leadoff double and Freeman hit a three-run homer over the left-field wall to give Atlanta a 5-3 lead.
Strasburg left in the sixth inning with a runner on first with one out. Matt Belisle took over and allowed a two-run homer to Anthony Recker. Atlanta added one more run in the seventh inning when Freeman scored on Peterson's sacrifice fly.
"He didn't have anything in the tank in the middle innings," Baker said. "He ran out of gas. The heat kind of got to him and the opposing pitcher [Foltynewicz]."
Strasburg didn't have any excuses for his disappointing outing. He said he gave it everything he had, but needed to have better preparation before the game.
"It's still a learning process. I have to keep working on the preparation part and see what I can do to keep my hand dry, keep my legs feeling good," Strasburg said. "I don't want to sit here and make excuses. I didn't execute tonight. The Braves put some good swings on the ball."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Diversified power: This marked the fifth time this season, and the second time within the past seven games, the Braves hit at least three home runs in a game. Freeman's three-run shot gave him more home runs (four in 34 at-bats) than anybody against Strasburg, and Recker's two-run blast was his first of the season. Peterson sparked the power barrage when he led off the second with his sixth homer of the season, matching the total he produced in 302 more at-bats last year.
"We started it in inning one and kept it going all the way through," said Freeman, who is hitting .412 in his career against Strasburg and .327 against the Nationals. "Obviously Strasburg has been great all year. To come out and get on him early was a good thing for us."
Rendon going strong:  Rendon has hit safely in 17 out of his last 21 games, going 26-for-77 (.337) with five home runs and 17 RBIs.
Good enough: Foltynewicz kept the Nationals hitless until Trea Turner recorded a two-out RBI single in the third and then paid for the curveball that Rendon sent over the left-center field wall in the fourth. The competitive right-hander might have allowed his emotions to get the best of him on a few occasions, but he was one out from recording a quality start before his outing ended with Brian Goodwin's RBI single in the sixth.
"The main goal every time you go out there is to give your team the best chance to win," Foltynewicz said. "I think I did an OK job of that tonight. The offense came out and attacked one of the best pitchers in baseball and got me an early lead. I kind of gave it up there for a minute, but the way this team has been hitting, I knew they were going to get me some runs. So, I just kept attacking."
Werthy streak: After making outs in his first three at-bats, Werth extended his on-base streak to 41 games in the seventh with a double off reliever Jose Ramirez. Werth has a chance to tie Zimmerman's club-record streak of 43 this weekend against the Braves. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
By striking out Nick Markakis in the fifth inning, Strasburg passed Javier Vazquez for second place on the franchise strikeout list with 1,077.
The Braves totaled 13 home runs through this season's first 38 games. They have hit 12 home runs through the first eight games of this road trip.
WHAT'S NEXT
Braves: Rob Whalen will be on the mound when Atlanta and Washington resume this three-game series on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Whalen has impressed the Braves as he has created good movement on his sinker and shown poise during his only two previous career starts.
Nationals: Reynaldo Lopez, the Nats' No. 3 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, will be summoned from Triple-A to make his third Major League start. The hard-throwing righty struggled in his previous two callups, allowing a combined nine runs in 8 2/3 innings against the Giants and Dodgers.

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