Braves Knock Around Gio, Shut Out Nationals

The Braves helped the Nationals wrap up the National League East on Sunday afternoon, but Atlanta did Washington no favors during an 8-0 thumping Tuesday night at Nationals Park.

The Braves broke out for 14 hits — nine of which went for extra bases, including seven doubles — as they tagged Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez for five runs on seven hits in five innings. Freddie Freeman collected three hits, including a three-run homer, and second baseman Ozzie Albies added a solo homer among his three hits.
“Gio’s probably been one of the best pitchers in the game this year, so it was nice to be able to get to him,” Freeman said. “We did make him throw a lot of pitches in the first inning, and we were able to capitalize when we got guys on, and I think that’s the name of the game.”
Atlanta also received a strong effort from right-hander Julio Teheran, who threw seven shutout innings. He gave up seven hits and walked a pair, but he was able to pitch out of trouble when necessary to keep the Nationals scoreless. Luke Jackson escaped a jam in the ninth to finish off the shutout.
“Julio’s been pretty good [in D.C.] the last few times,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s got a lot of support. He’s been really good, really efficient. His stuff’s been really good. He’s reaching back and getting a little extra when he needs to.”
The first game after a team clinches a postseason spot is usually difficult to avoid a letdown, even if the Nats had an off-day Monday to let the champagne dry. Regardless of the reason, the newly crowned National League East champs did not look sharp overall.
“[The Braves] didn’t come in here to celebrate with us,” Gonzalez said. “They came in here to do their job.”
Nationals manager Dusty Baker added: “I don’t know if it was a letdown or Teheran. He was sharp.”
Their offense was shut out and Gonzalez surrendered five earned runs for the second time in three starts. However, Gonzalez did collect eight strikeouts and surpassed the 180-innings mark this season, which automatically vested his $12 million option for the 2018 season.
“You get the strikeouts and then all of the sudden the hits came in,” Gonzalez said. “It was just one of those games. You take it for what it was, sweep it under the rug and get ready for tomorrow. It was one of those games you can’t really understand what happened, just pick up what you can and go from there.”
On his 28th birthday, Freeman launched his longest home run of the season in the third inning when he turned a fastball from Gonzalez into a 443-foot, three-run home run into center field. It gave the Braves a 4-0 advantage and continued Freeman’s assault on Nationals pitching. In eight games against the Nats this season, he is batting 14-for-37 (.378) with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
“Boy, he continues to hit us hard,” Baker said.
The Braves also continued to hit Gonzalez hard, even in the midst of the lefty’s strong season. In three starts against Atlanta this year, he owns a 6.48 ERA. More >
Teheran helps his own cause: Teheran, who was dominating on the mound, chipped in at the plate and padded the Braves’ lead in the sixth inning. With Atlanta up 5-0, the 26-year-old righty delivered an RBI single on a line drive to right field to score Dansby Swanson. The hit was the pitcher’s ninth of the year and brought his RBI total to seven — a single-season career high.
“It’s important whenever you get to face the Nationals,” Teheran said. “They’ve been pretty good this year, they qualified to the postseason already. … [I’m] just trying to come here and do whatever I can do to win the game. Good thing that the offense was on point today.”
Atlanta will tap rookie lefty Luiz Gohara (0-1, 13.50 ERA) Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. ET at Nationals Park. The 21-year-old prospect will look to rebound after a rough MLB debut against the Marlins in which he allowed six runs over just four innings.