Reflecting on a tough loss to a tough division opponent

ATLANTA - Last night's game had it all. And then some.

Ryan Zimmerman was nearly decapitated by a broken bat, then started a 5-4-3 double play after letting the splintered barrel fly over his head. A ball in play drilled second base umpire Angel Hernandez. Denard Span and Dan Uggla collided between first and second base. Adam LaRoche tried to score from second on a wild pitch and nearly made it. Multiple manager/umpire conversations on close calls. Multiple blown leads.

Wackiest game I've seen in a while.

In the end, the Nationals walked out of Turner Field on the losing end of a 7-6 10-inning ballgame.

It was weird, it was fun to watch, it was close and, like many of the games between these teams in the last couple of years, it went the way of the Braves.

Dating to the start of the 2013 season, the Nats have won just seven of the 23 games these teams have played. The games are almost always very close, and they have tended to go in Atlanta's favor the vast majority of the time.

Of the last 27 meetings between the clubs, 14 have been decided by just a single run. Ten of those 14 have been won by the Braves.

Last night, the Nats trailed 4-0 early and, like they have in a number of games already this season, did well to scratch and claw their way back into the contest.

They twice came back to tie the game, then took their first lead in the eighth, only to see Justin Upton homer off Tyler Clippard to then knot the score again. Then, in the 10th, an Upton bloop that looked like a sand wedge won it for Atlanta.

"The guys just continue to fight back," Matt Williams said. "That's a really good sign. It didn't come out our way tonight, but they got back in it, we took the lead. We'll take our chances with that every day."

The Braves did just enough to win, while the Nats were left thinking over another ballgame that could have easily been theirs.

"I think the thing that stings is that they've been beating us these last few years," Clippard said. "That's kinda what it comes down to. It's just the competitive side of it. When you play these close games, you want to win them, and especially against these guys, they seem to have been coming out on top. And that's what's frustrating. That's pretty much what it comes down to.

"Obviously, they're a good team and we feel like we're the top two teams in the division, and to lose to them, it's always frustrating."

Frustrating, not demoralizing. The Nats will quickly get past yesterday's loss, and they'll be in good spirits when they arrive at the park again this afternoon. But while they won't let another tough defeat get them down so early in the season, they are aware of the larger issue here.

"They've been getting the best of us lately," Zimmerman said of the Braves. "We have to figure out somehow some way to turn that momentum over to our side."

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