The Nationals and Braves were separated by only three games last season- and in the offseason, both made acquisitions aimed at besting their division rival.
Their first meeting of 2013 did not disappoint.
The Braves had nine hits and benefitted from seven walks form Nationals pitchers, including five from the Nationals bullpen, to stun the Nationals, 6-4 in extra innings.
The Nationals rode eight hits, including a two-run homer by Bryce Harper in the 1st, to take a 4-0 lead in game one of the much-anticipated three game set in the Nation’s Capital. The Nats sought to improve to 7-0 at home, and instead found themselves trailing the Braves by two for first place after the demoralizing loss.
The new acquisitions on both sides delivered. Denard Span, the new leadoff hitter for the Nationals, went 2 for 5 with two runs scored. Justin Upton countered with 3 for 5 for the Braves, and his brother BJ had an RBI walk against Tyler Clippard in the 8th with the bases loaded.
The Nationals’ Ross Detwiler pitched seven strong innings, surrendering one run on four hits. The run came on a home run by the Braves’ Johnson in the seventh.
Drew Storen got Dan Uggla to fly out to end the threat in the 8th, but blew the save by surrendering one walk and three singles in the 9th. Storen walked the bases loaded in the 9th, then surrendered a run scoring hit to Justin Upton. The game tying run was scored when Ryan Zimmerman committed a throwing error trying to throw out Heyward at second base.
In the 10th, Washington’s Craig Stammen surrendered the game-winning runs by walking Dan Uggla with two out and surrendering Ramiro Pena’s third career home run.
Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect 10th for his 5th save of the year.
Ryan Zimmerman played in his 1,000th game for the Nationals, getting a hit in the 8th. He made his debut in the team’s first season in DC, in 2005.