By The Sports Xchange
ATLANTA – The Washington Nationals still have two games left against the Braves, but they already have more victories against Atlanta than any other team ever over a two-year period.
Max Scherzer beat Atlanta for the fourth time this season, rookie Trea Turner had four hits, including a two-run homer, and the Nationals improved to 29-7 against the Braves since 2015 with a 7-2 victory Friday night.
Scherzer (17-7) allowed seven hits and two runs over seven innings, keeping his ERA at 2.78. The right-hander struck out eight and walked two, leaving after 104 pitches. His 259 strikeouts lead the majors.
Turner was 4-for-5 with his ninth homer, a double, two stolen bases and four runs scored. The 23-year-old’s third four-hit game raised his average to .349 in 58 games.
The Nationals (88-59) maintained their 10-game lead over the New York Mets in the National League East with the victory, and their magic number for clinching is down to six.
The Braves (56-91) have lost nine of the past 10 games to the Nationals and are 2-15 against them this year.
Braves starter John Gant (1-4) could get just five outs and one was a sacrifice bunt. The rookie right-hander allowed five runs while giving up six hits and walking three, with 27 of his 56 pitches missing the strike zone.
Anthony Rendon drove in the two first-inning runs for the Nationals with a single, and Turner homered with a man on in the three-run third. Daniel Murphy’s double, which extended his hitting streak to 13 games, concluded the onslaught against Gant.
Atlanta’s Matt Kemp doubled leading off the second for his 1,500th career hit, and Tyler Flowers followed with a single to give the Braves an early run against Scherzer.
Flowers’ sacrifice fly in the sixth inning briefly drew the Braves within three runs, but Murphy delivered a sacrifice fly in the seventh to score Turner, who stole second and third bases after a leadoff single.
Ryan Weber worked 4 2/3 innings in relief for the Braves, allowing two hits and a run while striking out five — all in a row.
Jayson Werth followed a double by Turner with his third hit to drive in the Nationals’ final run in the ninth inning.
NOTES: Manager Dusty Baker was back with the Nationals after missing Wednesday’s victory over the New York Mets to attend a family funeral in California. … 1B Freddie Freeman was away from the Braves to be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple’s first child on Thursday. … Braves RHP Jose Ramirez is appealing his three-game suspension and undisclosed fine for throwing near the head of Marlins starter Jose Fernandez in the seventh inning on Wednesday, causing both dugouts to empty. … OF Mallex Smith, out since breaking his left thumb on June 19, was activated from the 60-day disabled list by the Braves. … 2B Jace Peterson was a late scratch from the Braves’ lineup because of a sprained left ankle. … LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-9, 4.27 ERA) will start for the Nationals in the middle game of the series on Saturday against RHP Josh Collmentor (1-0, 4.84 ERA), who will make his Braves debut. … The Braves’ Class A advanced farm team next year will be in the Florida State League at Kissimmee rather than in the Carolina League.