ATLANTA - Davey Johnson has joked in recent weeks that he was going to pick his spot for his first ejection of the season. He wanted to save it for when it was really needed.
That spot came in the bottom of the sixth inning this evening.
Leading off the sixth, Martin Prado grounded a ball back to Nationals starter Edwin Jackson, who fired to first in time to get Prado by a step. First base umpire Marvin Hudson ruled that Adam LaRoche's foot had gotten pulled off the bag, however, and called Prado safe.
LaRoche, who is as mild-mannered as they come, immediately turned around and shouted something at Hudson, which told you all you needed to know about whether the call was accurate. LaRoche isn't the type to argue when he knows an ump has gotten it right, but that wasn't the case here. He walked up to Hudson and had what looked like a heated discussion with the umpire.
Johnson then came sprinting out of the dugout and gave Hudson an earful. He was eventually tossed, but not before he made it clear he felt Hudson had botched the call good.
Replays showed that LaRoche was indeed on the bag when he made the catch.
Of course, the call played a major factor in the inning, as Jason Heyward - the very next batter, mind you - crushed a two-run homer to right-center to tie the game at 4-4.
Turner Field again was rocking, and Jackson didn't make it out of the sixth inning. Bench coach Randy Knorr, who will take over the managing duties for the rest of the game, pulled Jackson with one out in the sixth, bringing in Tom Gorzelanny to record the final two outs.
We've got a brand new ballgame after six.
Update: The Nats played with fire in the bottom of the seventh. They got burned in the eighth.
Christian Garcia walked two batters in the seventh to put the go-ahead runner in scoring position, but the Nats got out of the jam when Garcia and Michael Gonzalez retired the final two batters of the inning to get out of the jam. They weren't so lucky the next inning, when Ryan Mattheus loaded the bases on a single and two walks before grazing Andrelton Simmons with a pitch that brought in a run to make it 5-4 Braves.
Zach Duke got the Nats out of the inning without further damage, but the Nats trail by one entering the ninth with dominant Braves closer Craig Kimbrel coming on.
Update II: The potential tying run got as close as 90 feet away against Kimbrel, but he struck out Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore to strand Eury Perez on third and close out a 5-4 Braves win.
It's the second night in a row that Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth to wrap up a Braves win. Last night, the Nats felt they just got outplayed. Tonight, they might feel that the umpires didn't give them any help as they dropped their second straight at Turner Field.
Washington's NL East lead has been cut to 6 1/2 games with the finale of this three-game series coming tomorrow night.