ATLANTA - It’s not often you can get to put up a crooked number on Craig Kimbrel.
The flame-throwing Braves closer has a career 1.54 ERA and makes some of the best hitters in baseball look like children in the batter’s box.
The Nats had a chance to take the lead off Kimbrel in the top of the ninth tonight, however, but they failed to cash in, and it’s still 1-1 as we go to the 10th inning.
Ryan Zimmerman led off the top of the ninth with a broken-bat bloop single to center off Kimbrel, and Adam LaRoche - who was 0-for-6 with four strikeouts off Kimbrel coming into the night - smoked a double to the gap in right-center.
Just like that, the Nats had a golden opportunity, on a night where golden opportunities have been incredibly hard to come by.
All the Nats needed was a lazy fly ball, a grounder through the hole, another bloop to drop. They got none of those, until it was too late.
Ian Desmond failed to put the ball in play with no outs, striking out looking at a Kimbrel heater high in the zone.
Roger Bernadina followed by shooting a grounder to third, which Chris Johnson gloved and fired home to cut down Zimmerman at the plate.
Danny Espinosa, the Nats’ last chance to push across a run in the ninth, then flew out to left on the first pitch he saw.
Inning over, threat over.
Fernando Abad then worked a scoreless bottom of the ninth, sending this game to extra innings as a light rain starts to fall at Turner Field.
We’re still tied, even though the Nationals had a major opportunity to put this thing away.
Update: B.J. Upton had been booed by a large portion of the 46,910 in attendance tonight after popping up in the fifth and striking out in the eighth. They’re not booing him anymore.
Upton dropped an RBI single into right field in the bottom of the 10th, bringing in pinch-runner Jordan Schafer from second and giving the Braves a 2-1 walk-off win.
Henry Rodriguez issued two walks and allowed a stolen base in the 10th, and his wildness came back to haunt him.
The Nats drop back to .500 with the loss. They’ll be kicking themselves for that blown opportunity in the top of the ninth all night.