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The Braves (69-45) and the Nationals (54-59) had a pitchers’ duel on Tuesday night in a 2-1 Atlanta victory that saw benches clear and both teams warned by umpire Joe West in the fifth inning.
National’s outfielder Bryce Harper was struck by a pitch in the backside from Braves starter Julio Teheran (9-5) in the fifth inning after hitting a solo home run in his previous at-bat two innings earlier.
Harper took a step toward the mound with words for Teheran before making his way to first base. Braves catcher Brian McCann quickly came from behind the plate to get between the heated Harper and his pitcher.
West, the home plate umpire, took quick action in getting McCann steered away from Harper. Both benches and bullpens cleared, including Braves right-fielder Jason Heyward who came out of the game after his first at-bat with a strained neck.
After order was restored and both benches warned, play resumed to see an otherwise disappointing game.
Evan Gattis, who entered the game for Heyward, had a two-out single in the top of the fifth that scored, both, B.J. Upton and Andrelton Simmons. These, along with Harper’s homer, proved to be the only runs in the game.
Teheran only allowed four hits to Washington to match his four strikeouts in six innings of work. Craig Kimbrel came in for the save opportunity and gave Braves fans a bit of poetic justice by striking out Harper on a 99 MPH fastball to end the game.
Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez (7-5) took the loss Tuesday despite a solid outing. Seven innings with five strikeouts and only six hits given up is a good day on the mound for any pitcher. He just lacked the run support from his offense and the two earned runs by Gattis were his only black eye.
The win pushed the Braves to 12-straight victories. The streak is the longest by a Braves team since a 15-game win streak that ended on May 2, 2000.
The Braves also added another come-from-behind win to total up to 37 on the season, which is a Major League leading stat.
Atlanta now leads the NL East by 14.5 games over the Nationals, the largest division lead in MLB.
Batting Title Update:
Since ending his multi-hit game streak at eight-straight on August 3, where he went 0-for-3 with two walks, Chris Johnson has been on a little bit of a slump.
The next night after the streak ended, Johnson seemed to be on his horse again with a 2-for-4, two-RBI game. He has been 0-for-4 with a strikeout in each of the two games this series with Washington, dropping his average back to .338 after being as high as .347.
Johnson still leads the National League with the injured Yadier Molina holding on to second from the disabled list.
Chris Johnson and the Braves will play for win #13 behind Kris Medlen (8-10) in the final game of the series with Washington and starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (13-6) on Wednesday. First pitch from Nationals Park in Washington will be at 7:05 ET.