ATLANTA - They’re far from the only team which can say this lately, but the Nationals are having a really tough time against Braves right-hander Kris Medlen tonight.
They trail 1-0 after four innings thanks to some solid work on the mound by Ross Detwiler, but Medlen has kept the Nats out of striking distance all night so far.
He has a whopping nine strikeouts through four innings, six of which have been looking.
Nationals hitters have been befuddled by Medlen’s pinpoint-accurate two-seam fastball and dancing offspeed stuff, and they’ve been left shaking their heads walking back to the dugout on more than a few occasions.
Medlen struck out the side in both the first and fourth innings, with all three Ks in the fourth being of the looking variety.
The only hitters who apparently have gotten a decent read on Medlen tonight have been Bryce Harper, who has singled and walked, and Kurt Suzuki, who sent a fly ball deep to center which was tracked down by Reed Johnson.
Outside of Harper, Nationals hitters are 2-for-17 with nine strikeouts.
Detwiler, meanwhile, has allowed five hits and a walk through four innings, but has surrendered just a single run.
He’ll need the Nats’ bats to eventually come around tonight, although the longer Medlen stays in the game, the lower the chances of that are.
The 26-year-old Braves righty has now allowed just two earned runs in his last 43 innings.
Update: After Roger Bernadina made a ridiculous leaping catch into the left field wall to save a run in the bottom of the fifth, Harper immediately tied the ballgame on the first pitch of the sixth.
Harper crushed a solo shot to the opposite field on the first pitch he saw from Medlen in the sixth inning, giving him 19 homers on the season and making this a brand new game.
The 19-year-old has now reached all three times against Medlen tonight.
This is turning into quite a ballgame.
Update II: Both starting pitchers are out of the game and this one is in the hands of the bullpens.
Detwiler went six innings, allowing one run on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Medlen went seven innings, allowing one run on seven hits with a walk and a career-high 13 strikeouts.
We’re through seven still knotted at 1-1 after Ryan Mattheus and Michael Gonzalez combined to work a scoreless frame. The crowd at Turner Field is starting to stir, realizing just how crucial these next few innings will be with the Nationals’ division lead already at 8 1/2.
Update III: An infield single, a bloop hit to right and a fielder’s choice was enough to give the Braves a 2-1 walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth.
After Andrelton Simmons singled into the hole at short with one out, Michael Bourn dropped a single to right, putting the game-winning run on third base with one out. Sean Burnett then got pinch-hitter Tyler Pastornicky to ground to short, but Ian Desmond’s rushed throw home was way off the mark, and Simmons scored to win it for Atlanta.
The Braves pick up a much-needed game on the Nats, and now trail Washington by 7 1/2 in the NL East.
Burnett gets the loss, making him 1-2 on the season.