After yesterday's 11-inning slopfest in which the Nationals used five relievers, they needed Edwin Jackson to eat innings and give them a chance to win Game 1 of today's doubleheader.
Eat innings - check.
Give the Nats a chance to win - check.
Jackson has worked six fantastic frames so far today, allowing just one run on four hits.
The righty has struck out eight and has benefited from a fantastic slider which has left Braves hitters flailing all afternoon.
Unfortunately for Jackson and his team, Ben Sheets has been dealing, as well.
The veteran Braves starter has held the Nats scoreless over five innings, and the Braves have a 1-0 lead as we go to the bottom of the sixth.
There's still plenty of time left for the Nats to win this ballgame. But regardless of the outcome, Jackson gave them something they badly needed in this contest - a quiet bullpen in the middle innings.
Update: Jackson was fantastic today, but he leaves the game in line for the loss.
The Nats still trail 1-0 as we go to the eighth. We can close the book on Jackson, who delivered seven innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and two walks. He struck out nine, matching his season-high, and threw 111 pitches.
Jackson was removed for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh and Henry Rodriguez takes over for the Nats in the eighth. Washington had a shot to put together a rally in the seventh when Danny Espinosa reached on a leadoff single, but Jesus Flores lined a sac bunt attempt back at pitcher Kris Medlen, who made the grab and then doubled Espinosa off first.
Update II: Atlanta's lead is now 2-0 after Rodriguez failed to retire a batter in the eighth and then brought in a run on a wild pitch.
Rodriguez gave up a leadoff single to Michael Bourn, allowed Bourn to steal second, walked Martin Prado, allowed both Bourn and Prado to move up on a double-steal and then threw one past Flores for a wild pitch.
Bourn scored, and Davey Johnson came out to get Rodriguez in the middle of his at-bat against Jason Heyward. Ryan Mattheus came on with the count 2-1 to Heyward and eventually got out of the inning without allowing another run to score.
Rodriguez's line: zero innings pitched, one run, one hit, two walks and a wild pitch.
Update III: Chipper Jones put the finishing touches on another big Braves win, crushing a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning to make the final score of the opener 4-0.
That's two wins in the span of 17 hours for the Braves, and the Nats' NL East lead has been cut to 1 1/2 games.
Come on down, John Lannan.