ATLANTA - From the Nationals’ perspective, this was just one of those tip-your-hat type of games.
They ran into a scorching hot starting pitcher in Atlanta’s Kris Medlen, surrendered just two extra-base hits, faced arguably the best closer in the majors in the ninth and then allowed the game-winning run on an infield single, a soft line drive to right and a fielder’s choice.
They didn’t play all that poorly, they just got beat.
Ross Detwiler was pitching out of the stretch nearly the entire night, but he battled out of trouble to allow just one run. He was merely outpitched by Medlen, who struck out a career-high 13 and gave up just one run himself - a solo homer by Bryce Harper.
“Det pitched a hell of a ballgame,” manager Davey Johnson said. “You have to tip your hat to Medlen. He had a great game against us. Just made a little error at the end, otherwise it was pretty good.”
The error was charged to Ian Desmond on a bang-bang play in the ninth in which speedy shortstop Andrelton Simmons was sprinting down the line from third on a groundball off the bat of Tyler Pastornicky. Desmond gloved the ball and fired home quickly, but his throw went way wide, allowing Simmons to slide in with the winning run.
The Turner Field crowd went nuts and the Braves celebrated a huge win as the Nats slowly walked off the field and into their clubhouse.
“I don’t worry about those mistakes, they’re going to happen,” Johnson said. “You throw the ball away. Defense has been outstanding. It’s just tough to lose that way. I’d like to make them earn it.”
Medlen was nearly unhittable, at least to guys not named Harper. The 26-year-old lowered his ERA to 1.62 with what was another sterling performance.
“I was really impressed,” Johnson said. “He used all his pitches, both sides of the plate. Good curveball, good changeup. Was smart and mixed up his pitches well. Didn’t stay in any pattern. He was good, real good. So was my guy. Det showed me something, going out there, he had some hard innings and went back out for the sixth and threw a great game.”
What exactly did Detwiler show his skipper?
“This kind of game, (there was) a little more attention on it,” Johnson said. “And he was in trouble in the fourth and fifth and got out of it. And he finished strong in the sixth. He was right at his pitch limit by then. But all the pitches up to them, they were tough pitches. It was good. Good game for Det.”
Johnson said that Roger Bernadina, who went crashing into the left field wall to make a spectacular catch in the fifth, was fine.
“He hit it with his right shoulder,” Johnson said. “I went out there slow hoping he’d get better. He was fine. A little longer run than I wanted, but he was fine.”