Through 5 1/2 innings, the Nationals and Braves have supplied no shortage of plot twists. The Nationals scored four runs in the fourth inning, gave up five in the fifth and just went back ahead of the Braves, 8-7, on a Danny Espinosa home run.
Espinosa, who had a RBI triple that nearly left the park in the fourth inning, is now a double away from the cycle.
Sean Burnett - who gave up two in the fifth but stayed in so manager Davey Johnson didn’t have to use another pinch hitter so early in the game - singled to start the Nationals’ rally in the sixth, but got thrown out at second on a Roger Bernadina blooper after he retreated toward first, thinking the ball would be caught. He turned back toward second too late, and Bernadina’s would-be single became a fielder’s choice. It would be 9-7 right now had Burnett not gotten thrown out, but the Nationals still have the lead.
And from a pitching standpoint, it’s been another odd day for Burnett. He gave up Brian McCann’s go-ahead homer in the fifth inning - nullifying the lefty-lefty advantage the Nationals thought they had - but had a 1-2-3 sixth after the team sent him back out. He’s given up a run in four of his last six appearances. But improbably, he’s in line for a victory, and after losing Tom Gorzelanny in the second inning, the Nationals have a chance to close the game with their top relievers - Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen.