Third baseman Anthony Rendon smacked a dramatic two-run homer in the ninth Friday that erased Atlanta’s lead and tied the game at 4-4.
The Braves ended up winning the game 6-4 in 13 innings.
Rendon’s blast came against the Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, who arrived with 21 saves.
“I was just looking for a ball to barrel up and that one just happened to go out, and we just couldn’t get it done in extra innings,” Rendon said.
“I just try to see the ball. Try not to do too much. He is going to supply the power. He throws 100 mph. He throws pretty hard. He’s a phenomenal pitcher and I happened to barrel one.”
Rendon said the team’s mentality is that they feel like they always have a chance even down two with two outs in their last at-bat.
“That is our attitude throughout the whole game,” he said. “We are not going to come into a game and think we are automatically lose so that’s our attitude throughout the whole game that we are going to win a ball game.”
Does it hurt that the Nationals have now lost seven of their last eight games to the Braves?
“No big deal,” Rendon said. “We are losing to them now, but the bigger picture is at the end of the season.”
First baseman Adam LaRoche weighed in on Rendon’s clutch home run that tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.
“It’s a close game,” LaRoche said. “You know we had an opportunity there. Tony came up huge. Big home run for us, put us right back in it. Three or four innings to score a run, couldn’t do it.”
He said Rendon’s blast was huge to lift the spirits of the dugout after so many tough games against the Braves.
“It is, especially the timing of it, you know coming against the team that we’ve had so much trouble with,” LaRoche said. “You go from realistically knowing there in the ninth it’s going to be tough to get this one what with the best closer in the game on the mound and you tie it up and a pretty good feeling after that that we’re going to win it.”
LaRoche said Braves starter Mike Minor, who struck out 11 batters, didn’t give them many chances.
“I don’t remember a whole lot of 3-1 counts, I don’t remember a lot of hitters counts,” LaRoche said. “It seemed like he was getting those early strikes, and then just kind of playing around with the off-speed, mixing in the fastballs. He threw well. We’ve seen him a few times. He’s pretty good.”
Reliever Jerry Blevins said going out for a second inning of work was no excuse in their 6-4 loss in 13 innings to Atlanta Friday night.
“Absolutely, you know. Everybody is tired,” Blevins said. “We are in the 13th inning. Their guys have been going the whole time, our guys have. You got to step up and get the job done. Gave up a couple of runs and didn’t get it done.
“That was a good game. Rendon hit off the second best closer in the game to (Rafael) Soriano and you know just riding the high. And then we kind of give up, or I give it up in the 13th. Good thing about baseball is we get to go at it tomorrow and try to get one against them tomorrow.”
Blevins said walking B.J. Upton to lead off the 13th inning, where the Braves plated two decisive runs, was the at-bat he wanted back.
“Yeah, that was the one that gets me the most, the leadoff walk to Upton, you can’t do that,” Blevins said. “I know he is a patient hitter so I kind of fell behind and then the one pitch to (Evan) Gattis. (Freddie) Freeman’s hit me well so far. We battled. I threw a good pitch and he put it in the hole. It is just the leadoff walk, definitely.”
Blevins got hit on his foot from a comebacker for the second straight night. On Thursday he was hit higher up on his leg and the ball rolled towards Rendon at third base.
“I decided to kick it to the other side of the infield to let Rendon, he doesn’t have to dive at it, so luckily this one got me on the bottom of the foot and then ricocheted towards somebody this time,” Blevins joked.
Starter Stephen Strasburg did not factor into the decision. After the game he talked about throwing a lot of fastballs to Jason Heyward. Heyward had two hits, a double and two RBIs against Strasburg.
“I guess it was the plan going in,” Strasburg said. “So, I don’t think it was the right plan. But that is what we went with.”