By The Sports Xchange
WASHINGTON — Nationals Park has been a house of horrors in recent years for Atlanta, which had lost 24 of its last 27 games in the nation’s capital through Tuesday.
During that time, the Braves gave up 37 homers and posted a 6.20 ERA.
But the tables were turned Wednesday as the Braves pounded out 16 hits and defeated the first-place Washington Nationals 13-2 to take two of three games in the series between National League East division foes.
The Braves scored 29 runs in the three games and got their first series win in Washington since 2014.
“We finally did that,” said Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips, who was 4-for-6 with three RBIs.
Atlanta right fielder Nick Markakis and center fielder Ender Inciarte each had three hits.
“We just had good at-bats. We waited for our pitch and when we got it we didn’t miss it,” Markakis said. “Against any team, it is big (to win a series). I felt like we had a good series.”
The Nationals lost for the fourth time in five games — all at Nationals Park. Washington entered the game with the worst bullpen ERA in the National League, but this time it was starter Tanner Roark who struggled.
“We came home and we didn’t play well here at home,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said. “It was a tough homestand. This is not the kind of homestand you want to exhibit in front of your home fans.”
Inciarte was 3-for-6 with two RBIs and Julio Teheran allowed two runs to get the win for the Braves.
The top three hitters went 10-for-16 and scored seven runs for Atlanta, which put the game away with six runs in the seventh. Matt Adams and Kurt Suzuki added two hits each for the Braves.
Teheran (6-4) beat first-place Washington for the first time in 10 starts. The right-hander gave up just six hits and one walk in seven innings to the top hitting team in the league.
“I was trying to stay hot,” Teheran said of long innings on the bench with the Braves hitting. “I was able to finish. It is big (to beat the Nationals). My two-seamer is getting better. I am using it more. I try to use it when I can.”
The Braves scored three in the top of the first to take a 3-0 lead as Phillips had an RBI double and Markakis and Adams drove in runs with sharply hit singles against Roark.
Washington trimmed the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the second inning as Brian Goodwin hit a two-run homer.
But Atlanta scored three in the third inning to take a 6-2 advantage. Markakis scored on an error when catcher Jose Lobaton made a bad pickoff throw to first base. Later in the inning, Suzuki, a former Nationals catcher, smashed a two-run homer to give the Braves a 6-2 lead.
Adams had a sacrifice fly in the fifth as Atlanta jumped ahead 7-2 against Roark (6-4), who gave up a season-high seven runs and nine hits in five innings. Roark has a 4.39 ERA after posting a mark of 2.83 last year.
What went wrong for Roark?
“Yeah, just extending out,” Roark said. “Extending, getting close to the plate, really. I think that’s my main issue. I looked at some video and saw it was a little thing like that. Most of the time in baseball, it can play tricks on you, and it was a little thing.”
What does extending out mean?
“Just holding onto the ball longer. That makes me extend out. Keeps my front side in,” Roark said.
Teheran walked with the bases loaded in the seventh off reliever Trevor Gott to force in a run and make it 8-2. Inciarte followed with a two-run single, Phillips had a two-run double and Danny Santana had an RBI single to make it 13-2.
Atlanta (29-36) won just the 13th time in its last 47 games against the Nationals. Stephen Drew and Adam Lind had two hits apiece for Washington (39-26).
Braves left fielder Matt Kemp was replaced in the last of the third by Santana. Kemp held his hamstring after he was tagged out at third in the top of the third. Kemp is day to day with a sore left hamstring.
“We are just being cautious,” Kemp said. “We played these guys pretty good.”
NOTES: Nationals Park is about 10 miles north of Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Virginia, the scene of a shooting Wednesday morning that injured Congressional staff members practicing with the Republican team for the annual Congressional baseball game slated for Thursday. The charity game will be played as scheduled on Thursday at Nationals Park. … Darren Baker, the son of Washington manager Dusty Baker, was drafted in the 27th round Wednesday by the Nationals. He just graduated from high school and is expected to play in college at California as a freshman. … Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez (5-1, 2.91 ERA) will face Mets RHP Robert Gsellman (5-3, 4.95) on Thursday in New York. … Atlanta LHP Sean Newcomb (0-1, 0.00) will oppose Marlins RHP Dan Straily (4-4, 3.89) on Friday in Atlanta.