Freeman leads win over injury-stricken Nationals
by Charles Odum
Associated Press Sports Writer
April 13, 2014 04:01 AM | 1172 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons heads back to the dugout after tagging the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman on a pickoff play. Zimmerman broke his thumb on the play and will miss four to six weeks.
<Br>Associated Press photo
Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons heads back to the dugout after tagging the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman on a pickoff play. Zimmerman broke his thumb on the play and will miss four to six weeks.
Associated Press photo
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ATLANTA — The Braves keep finding ways to beat the Nationals, who now must find a way to overcome a sudden wave of injuries.

Freddie Freeman had three hits, including a homer, and Atlanta beat Washington 6-3 on Saturday night to continue its early success against the Nationals.

Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman left the game with a broken right thumb and is expected to miss four to six weeks. Nationals leadoff hitter and center fielder Denard Span was placed on the seven-day disabled list before the game with a concussion.

“It is what it is. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” manager Matt Williams said. “You’ve got to play.”

B.J. Upton had two hits, including his first homer, and Dan Uggla drove in two runs with two hits for Atlanta.

After winning two of three at Washington in the opening week, the Braves have won the first two games of a weekend home series against their NL East rivals. Since the start of the 2013 season, Atlanta has won 17 of the last 24 games in the rivalry.

Braves left-hander Alex Wood (2-1) allowed one run on six hits and three walks in five innings. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his fifth save.

Upton, who began the night hitting .135, and Uggla, batting .162, finally got untracked.

“It was good to see some of the guys start putting good at-bats together,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “B.J. had four good at-bats.”

Justin Upton had three hits, including two doubles, to extend his tear at the plate. Evan Gattis also had three hits.

Washington starter Taylor Jordan (0-1) allowed five runs on 10 hits and two walks in five innings.

“I just wasn’t hitting my spots, and they capitalized on that,” Jordan said.

Washington’s Anthony Rendon hit his second homer leading off the game.

Zimmerman was hurt diving back to the bag when he was picked off second base in the fifth.

“I think he did it on the bag,” Williams said. “It’s unfortunate, but we’ve got to step forward from here.”

Following Zimmerman’s exit, Rendon moved from second base to third and Danny Espinosa entered the game at second base.

“It’s not our first choice, certainly, but the fact they can play multiple positions is good in times like this,” Williams said.

Span had headaches following a collision on the basepath with Uggla on Friday night.

Right fielder Jayson Werth, who left Friday night’s game with cramping in his groin, did not start. He had a pinch-hit infield single in the eighth following Sandy Leon’s run-scoring single. Freeman’s throwing error on Werth’s hit left runners at first and third, but Rendon’s fly to center ended the inning.

Washington’s makeshift outfield included Bryce Harper in center, Kevin Frandsen in left and Nate McLouth in right.

After giving up Rendon’s leadoff homer, Wood allowed at least two baserunners in each of his next four innings. He threw 103 pitches.

“Somehow I managed to get through five,” Wood said, adding the pickoff of Zimmerman “was huge” because he was on the verge of being pulled from the game.

Williams used his replay challenge in the second inning after McLouth, credited with a sacrifice bunt, was called out at first base. The call by umpire Angel Hernandez stood following a video review.

Williams could have used his challenge two innings later when replays indicated first baseman Adam LaRoche snagged a liner by Freeman as Jason Heyward advanced from first to second. LaRoche stepped on the bag for an apparent double play, but the umpires huddled — with Williams standing a few feet away — and ruled the ball hit the ground before the catch was made.

McLouth was involved in another questionable call in the fifth when he dropped a flyball hit by Andrelton Simmons. Replays indicated McLouth made the catch and was transferring the ball to his glove when it fell to the ground, but Hernandez ruled it was not a catch. The call left the bases loaded, but Jordan escaped by striking out pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit and Heyward.

Right-hander Blake Treinen, called up from Triple-A Syracuse before the game, pitched two scoreless innings in his major league debut.

NOTES: The Nationals also recalled OF Steven Souza Jr. and optioned RHP Blake Barrett to Syracuse. ... Gattis tied his career high with three hits. ... Justin Upton is 11-for-19 with three homers in the first five games of the homestand. ... The Nationals were charged with three errors, including two throwing miscues by SS Ian Desmond. ... The series ends today when Atlanta RHP Aaron Harang faces LHP Gio Gonzalez.
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