Martinez on Eaton’s return; Elías has Grade 1 strain (Nats lose 5-4)

ATLANTA - Nationals manager Davey Martinez elected to get Adam Eaton back in the lineup tonight for the third game of four at SunTrust Park against the Braves. This will be Eaton’s first start since Sept. 2. Eaton is batting second and in right field.

“It’ll be nice to get him up there, get him at the top of the order,” Martinez said. “Between him and Trea (Turner), get on base, get something going.”

Eaton-Swing-Red-sidebar.jpgMartinez said getting feedback from Eaton last night on how he felt running during the game made him confident his regular right fielder could play a full nine innings tonight.

“He’s doing better,” Martinez said. “He’s doing a lot better. I talked to him this morning. Yesterday we pinch hit (him), he said he felt like he could still run. We didn’t have to take him out for pinch-hitting. I talked to him today, he said he felt good. We are going to give it a whirl and see what happens.”

At first base, Martinez has Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup tonight against Julio Teheran.

“Right now, Zim’s swinging the bat well,” Martinez said. “I’ve said this before, a healthy Zim could carry us, and yesterday he proved that again with a big home run. So give him another shot and play today.”

Asdrúbal Cabrera starts at second base instead of Brian Dozier. Martinez likes Cabrera’s bat right now. There is nothing health-wise wrong with Dozier.

“He’s fine,” Martinez said. “We got a lot of options right now, a lot. Cabby came over, he’s swinging the bat well. We got a tough right-handed pitcher today and Cabby matched up good with Teheran today. But I’ve spoken to Dozier and I told him I haven’t forgot about him and ‘You are going to play. So, you got to be ready.’ We got a lot of guys, and even him coming off the bench as a right-handed hitter helps us out a lot.”

Martinez said reliever Roenis Elías underwent an MRI that revealed a hamstring strain. The next step is to get the left-hander looked at by the Nats team doctor back in D.C.

“We are sending him back tomorrow to go see the doctor in Washington and we will go from there,” Martinez said. “A grade one hamstring strain. So, we want to send him back to make sure she sees him. He’s a little less sore than he was last time. So that’s a good sign, but we will know more after he sees the doctor.”

With Elías out, Sean Doolittle is the only remaining healthy left-hander in the bullpen. The closer warmed up last night for the possibility of facing Freddie Freeman, but did not enter the game.

“He feels good,” Martinez said. “Mechanics are good. He’s confident, and that’s what we need.”

Martinez would consider Doolittle in a specialist role, but hopes to have the lefty back soon as the closer.

“For right now, yeah,” Martinez said of Doolittle against left-handed hitters. “I love for him to have a good couple weeks and get him back, or even a week, and get him back in that closer role, depending on the matchups. He may have to pitch the ninth inning. If there’s lefties in the ninth and (Daniel) Hudson could pitch the eighth, we will work it that way. But he understands. We talked about it.”

The Nats have not gotten Raudy Read into many games yet, but he is the current third catcher on the roster. Spencer Kieboom was placed on the injured list Sept. 4. The club has not revealed what placed Kieboom on the injured list.

“He’s another up-and-coming catcher for us,” Martinez said of Read. “He had a big year for us in Triple-A. I watched him throw today, and he’s got a cannon. He throws the ball really well. He hits for power. So just want to give him a chance and get him up here.”

Update: Ozzie Albies slammed an Austin Voth fastball over the left field wall in the first inning. His second homer in as many games was Albies’ 21st of the season. Julio Teheran has five strikeouts through three innings. The Nats have managed only one hit, a leadoff infield single by Trea Turner. That opportunity was wiped out when Teheran picked off Turner during Adam Eaton’s at-bat.

After three innings, the Braves lead the Nats 1-0.

Update II: Josh Donaldson slammed a solo shot in the fourth for his 36th of the season. Asdrúbal Cabrera got the Nats on the board with a long drive down the right field line for his 16th homer of the season. Voth pitched four innings, allowing two runs on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts. He fired 75 pitches, 47 for strikes.

Mid-fifth, the Braves lead the Nats 2-1.

Update III: Aaron Barrett relieved Voth in the fifth for his first major league appearance since Aug. 5, 2015. He walked the first batter faced, but then recorded three outs in a row, including a strikeout of Ronald Acuña Jr. After leaving the mound he broke down in tears with his face in a towel on the bench as teammates and the coaching staff came over to offer their support.

Brian McCann and Matt Joyce hit back-to-back homers off of Hunter Strickland in the sixth inning. McCann’s blast, his 11th on the season, was a two-run shot. Joyce has now hit six.

Teheran left after six innings, having allowed only one run on three hits. Braves starters have pitched 19 innings in the series and allowed only one earned run for a 0.47 ERA, with 20 strikeouts.

After six innings, the Braves lead the Nats 5-1.

Update IV: The Nats got a run back in the seventh, but hoped for so much more. Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a bases-loaded 5-4-3 double play to score a run.

After seven innings, the Braves lead the Nats 5-2.

Update V: In the eighth, Juan Soto drilled a two-run double to deep right-center field on a full-count offering from Shane Greene.

Mid-eighth inning, the Braves lead the Nats 5-4.

Update VI: In the ninth, Mark Melancon struck out Zimmerman looking. Victor Robles lined out to left field. Pinch-hitter Matt Adams struck out looking to end the game. Melancon has nine saves on the season.

Final score: Braves 5, Nats 4.

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