Losing streak reaches six as Nats fall 8-4 (Escobar injured)

ATLANTA - Right-hander Doug Fister surrendered the dreaded leadoff walk to Braves right fielder Nick Markakis to start the game. Fister would pay for it as Markakis advanced to third on first baseman Freddie Freeman’s double and then scored easily on a sacrifice fly from catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

Fister had an 18-inning scoreless streak working against the Braves until the first-inning run.

The slumping Nats offense has yet to pick up a hit yet against Braves starter Eric Stults.

zimmerman-gray-swing-sidebar.jpgUpdate: Second baseman Danny Espinosa ripped a double to start the third. Fister bunted Espinosa over and he trotted home on first baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s stand up double.

Zimmerman’s 13 RBIs leads the Nats.

In the bottom of the inning, Zimmerman’s athleticism was on full display. Markakis bounced a routine grounder to third baseman Yunel Escobar. Escobar fielded it cleanly but his throw was wild. Zimmerman somehow fully extended to snatch it while managing to scrape his right foot across the top of the bag. It saved Escobar an error and the Nats from dealing with the troublesome Markakis on the basepaths.

There is a scoring change on Freeman’s first-inning double. It was switched to a single and right fielder Bryce Harper gets charged with an error for misplaying the ball and allowing Freeman an extra base.

Update II: Fister gave up consecutive singles to third baseman Alberto Callaspo and left fielder Kelly Johnson to begin the fourth. Second baseman Jace Peterson plated Callaspo with a sacrifice fly to center as the Braves reclaimed the lead.

With two outs in the fifth, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons reached on an infield single. Fister then made an errant pickoff throw that got by Zimmerman. Simmons had already advanced around second base by the time Espinosa was able to collect the ball. Espinosa fired to Escobar in time to get Simmons, but an aggressive slide knocked Escobar’s glove off his left hand and the ball skirted away.

Nationals manager Matt Williams immediately came out of the dugout to check on Escobar, who remained on one knee favoring his left hand. Escobar came out of the game. There is no official word on his status.

Dan Uggla entered the game at second base and Espinosa replaced Escobar at third.

Johnson tagged Fister for a two-run homer in the sixth. It’s the third home run given up by Fister in four starts. Another errant pickoff attempt from the tall righty led to another Braves run.

Fister’s tough night ended after 5 2/3 innings. He allowed five runs, four earned, on 10 hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

The struggles at the plate continue for the Nats, with only one run and four hits through six innings.

Update III: The Nats were able to get one back in the seventh on center fielder Denard Span’s sacrifice fly scoring catcher Wilson Ramos.

Update IV: Left-hander Rafael Martin opened up the seventh by hitting Simmons on his first pitch. Outfielder Jonny Gomes was ejected as the Braves dugout was furious. It appeared to be in retaliation to Simmons’ hard slide into Escobar, but Martin remained in the game.

The Braves took advantage, as Simmons moved all the way to third on shortstop Ian Desmond’s ninth error on a grounder by first baseman Chris Johnson. A sacrifice fly from Pierzynski scored Simmons and and then Chris Johnson crossed the plate on a base knock by Kelly Johnson.

Update V: The Nats cut into the Braves lead in the eighth when Uggla hit a triple, plating Harper, and then scored himself when Peterson’s throw escaped Callaspo.

Update VI: The Braves added an insurance run on two hits off right hander Aaron Barrett in the eighth.

The Nats’ losing streak reaches six games as they fall 8-4 to the Braves. Washington only managed five hits on a night that included four errors.

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