Series: Game 2 of 3

Series tied 1-1 (as of 9/10)

Game 1: Friday, September 9
Game 2: Saturday, September 10
Game 3: Sunday, September 11

Braves 4

(82-60, 34-36 away)

Nationals 0

(73-70, 40-31 home)

    1:15 PM ET, September 10, 2005

    RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. 

    123456789 R H E
    ATL 000400000 4 8 0
    WAS 000000000 0 6 0

    W: J. Sosa (11-3)

    L: L. Hernandez (15-7)

    Andruw Jones smacks 47th homer as Braves blank Nationals

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Giving up a solo shot to Andruw Jones is one thing. He is, after all, a leading MVP candidate who tied a Braves record with his 47th homer.

    Giving up a three-run drive on a 2-0 pitch to Atlanta's No. 8 hitter, rookie Brian McCann, is quite another, even if he knew what to look for.

    Washington's Livan Hernandez allowed both of those big hits, which were plenty to propel the Braves to a 4-0 victory over the Nationals on Saturday behind eight shutout innings from Jorge Sosa and one homer-robbing catch by Jeff Francoeur.

    The rookie outfielder leaped and reached over the wall in right to bring back Cristian Guzman's shot with a runner on in the fifth.

    "It kind takes a little air out of you," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "That certainly would have been a big moment there for us."

    Instead, it was Jones and McCann who cleared the right-field fence in the fourth off Hernandez (15-7) -- who has lost 11 straight regular-season decisions against Atlanta.

    "We just take advantage when he makes mistakes," Jones said.

    Hernandez started Jones off with a looping 61 mph offering, then followed it with a pitch at 64 mph for a called strike.

    The right-hander next threw consecutive pitches at 87 mph, and the second was pounded by Jones, who added to his majors-high homer total and matched Eddie Mathews (1953) and Hank Aaron (1971) for most in a season by a Braves player.

    "It is good to be out there with some numbers like that," said Jones, who's been fighting the flu.

    "You know," Hernandez said, "Andruw's hot."

    Particularly against the Nationals, going 5-for-12 with three homers and seven RBI in the teams' last three games.

    "We just need to be smart enough to know which players to pitch around. Frank is the manager, and he needs to step up and make those moves," outfielder Jose Guillen said. "But I'm not a manager, I'm not a pitching coach, I'm not a pitcher. To me, there's no reason to be pitching to Andruw right now, the way he's been swinging."

    An out after Jones connected, three members of Atlanta's impressive rookie contingent helped pad the lead. Francoeur doubled, Ryan Langerhans walked, and McCann hit his fifth homer, making it 4-0.

    "I think the guy on second base" -- Francoeur -- "gave him the sign," Hernandez said.

    Sosa (11-3) made it stand up, improving to 8-0 with a 1.71 ERA in road starts this season, thanks in part to the big assist from Francoeur.

    After the catch, Jones -- a seven-time Gold Glove winner -- jogged over from his spot in center field to shake Francoeur's hand.

    "That turned the ballgame around," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

    Sosa scattered six hits, didn't walk a batter, and only allowed two runners as far as second base. He did it by throwing 74 of his 99 pitches for strikes. He started off 24 of 29 batters with a strike.

    "He kept us off-balance," Brad Wilkerson said. "He didn't really give up too many hard-hit balls."

    It had to be deflating loss for the Nationals, and not just because it was their fourth setback in five games as they try to stay in the NL wild-card race.

    This defeat came a day after Washington overcame a 6-2 deficit to beat Atlanta 8-6. And it came with All-Star and staff ace Hernandez on the mound. While he did allow the bullpen some much-needed rest by lasting eight innings, he also took a loss by giving up the four runs and seven hits.

    "We just don't seem to be able to put two games together," Robinson said. "Doesn't seem like we have the ability to do it."

    Now this is what the Nationals have to look forward to in Sunday's series finale: Rookie reliever Jason Bergmann will make his first major league start as part of a bullpen-relay strategy against NL East leader Atlanta and John Smoltz.

    "It's going to be a tough task," Wilkerson said.

    Game notes

    The Braves have won seven of nine games. ... Hernandez's last regular-season victory over Atlanta came on Aug. 18, 2000, for San Francisco. He's 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA against the Braves in the postseason, though. ... Only Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter has a better road record (12-0) than Sosa in 2005.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press