Pitching staff, defense falter in Nats' 10-inning loss to Braves

ATLANTA - They tried to overcome some of their ugliest defensive play of the season and a cobbled-together bullpen, but the Nationals couldn't pull off one more victory at Turner Field to complete a series sweep, and instead were left to stew over a 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Braves at the end of a long week of baseball.

Leading by three runs in the sixth, the Nationals let the Braves claw back to win. Yusmeiro Petit, the only fully fresh arm in their bullpen, recorded 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Gio Gonzalez, but faltered in the bottom of the eighth.

Petit gave up a leadoff homer to Matt Kemp, then loaded the bases with nobody out. After a 1-hour, 4-minute rain delay, Blake Treinen entered and tried to pitch out of the jam. Treinen did get a quick double-play grounder, but couldn't prevent the tying run from crossing the plate.


After a perfect bottom of the ninth, Treinen gave way to Shawn Kelley in the 10th. The veteran setup man, appearing for the fourth time in five days, got two quick outs, but then served up the game-winning homer to Jace Peterson on a 3-2 pitch.

The Nationals' pitching staff wasn't helped at all by its defense, which committed five errors (most in a single game in five years).

After burning up just about everyone in his bullpen the previous three nights, manager Dusty Baker needed Gonzalez to give him as many innings as possible today. The left-hander wound up going 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) while throwing 112 pitches.

The Nationals were in position to sweep this series and improve to 6-0 this year at Turner Field, thanks in no small part to their lineup, which scored a total of 32 runs over the last four days.

Bryce Harper continued his recent resurgence, launching a three-run homer to right in the top of the third. He has two homers and 11 RBIs in eight games since returning from a neck injury.

Chris Heisey, meanwhile, continues to be a surprising power source off the bench. Given a chance to start in left field with Jayson Werth taking a day off, the veteran clubbed a two-run homer in the top of the sixth. That was Heisey's eighth home run this season in only 115 at-bats, among the best such rates in the National League.

Ryan Zimmerman had another strong day at the plate, roping a single to center, drawing a walk and sending two loud outs to deep right field. He's 4-for-7 with a homer and a walk since returning from a left wrist contusion.

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