It would figure that, for these Nationals, the night they'd finally break out on offense, beat a pitcher who's tormented them and get some gifts from an opposing defense would also be the night their redoubtable bullpen sprung a leak.
They've played 35 games, and one-fifth of those have been decided by a run. Nothing ever comes easy for them, and despite the fact they built a 7-1 lead on the Braves tonight, nothing did.
Still, wins against Tim Hudson almost never happen for this team, and after they got one on Tuesday night, the Nationals put themselves in position for a solid finish to a nasty road trip.
They finally broke out on offense, getting help from two Braves errors but hitting a pair of three-run homers. And despite Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard allowing five runs, they hung on for a series-opening 7-6 win over the Braves, getting starter Jason Marquis the 100th win of his career.
The loss was just Hudson's third in 14 career decisions against the Nationals; the first four runs he allowed were unearned, but Laynce Nix golfed a solid pitch to right field for a three-run homer, launching it onto the walkway in right field. And Jayson Werth also found his power stroke with his own three-run homer off Hudson, his first in 12 games.
That development might have been the most encouraging for the Nationals from the win; they got homers from Werth and Nix, a pair of walks from Adam LaRoche, and two runs at the top of the lineup from Roger Bernadina. They finally put runners on base for the middle of their order, and hit some good pitches from Hudson. Though the Braves' defense gave them some opportunities, they still had to be better than Hudson. It hasn't happened for them often, but they were able to do it Tuesday night.
And that offensive outburst created enough of a margin for the Nationals to win - even if things got closer than they'd like.