7:05 PM ET, August 7, 2013
Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON -- Order another round for Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who has learned that a winning streak can be tough to swallow.
The Braves won their 13th straight Wednesday night, summarily dismissing the Washington Nationals 6-3 to complete a three-game sweep and take a staggering-for-early-August 15½-game lead in the NL East.
Now Gonzalez will have to keep drinking up. It turns out that the streak happened to begin on the day that bullpen coach Eddie Perez first gave the manager some sort of protein drink. Gonzalez hates the taste, but he can't stop drinking it with his team on such a roll; sure enough, he was sipping the concoction from a cup in the dugout a couple of hours before Wednesday's game.
Schoenfield: 10 Thoughts On 13 Wins
Atlanta scored three in the eighth to win their 13th straight, which led to David Schoenfield's 10 thoughts on the Braves. SweetSpot
"They may be giving me poop. I don't even know what it is," Gonzalez said. "But I've been drinking them for 13 days in a row now. We're superstitious, you know."
Maybe there are some four-leafs clovers stashed in the clubhouse as well, the way the Braves have been playing. While they have a ways to go before they can mathematically clinch, this week has served as a psychological clincher that only could be undone by a monumental collapse.
"We came in here and we let 'em know," first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "We're here to stay."
Jason Heyward singled and Justin Upton doubled in a three-run eighth inning, Upton also homered, and Braves starter Kris Medlen (9-10) allowed three runs and three hits over seven innings. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 36th save, working out of a bases loaded jam by getting Wilson Ramos to line out to right to end the game.
The eighth-inning runs came with two outs off relievers Ryan Mattheus (0-1) and Ian Krol as the Nationals lost their fourth straight and sixth of their last eight. The defending division champs scored only six runs in the three games and are losing hope for an alternate path to the postseason as well, falling nine games off the wild card pace.
"Lot of ground to make up, but you never know what can happen in this game," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "If nothing else, get our pride back by playing better."
The game was played nicely by both sides one night after a fastball to Bryce Harper's thigh cleared both benches and led to a public spat between the clubs' official Twitter feeds. Braves general manager Frank Wren said before the game that a tweet directed at Harper was "an inappropriate attempt at humor." When asked about any possible retaliation, Johnson said it would be "just baseball as usual" before flashing a smile.
As it turned out, the only confrontation involving Harper was between the young slugger and his own manager, when the two bickered in the dugout over whether Harper should come out of the game because of a nagging knee injury.
"Yeah, he was checking on my leg and asking how I felt," Harper said. "I just told him I felt fine and I don't want him to take me out."
While the game passed without incident between the two teams -- no one was hit by a pitch -- the saga might not be over. The teams play six more times this season, including a three-game series next week in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez has to stomach another protein shake. The good news: The Braves have Thursday off before opening a homestand.
"At least," Gonzalez said, "I get tomorrow off with the shakes."
Andrelton Simmons started the rally in the eighth with a two-out double off Mattheus. After a walk to a pinch hitter, Heyward singled in a run off Krol. Upton followed with a two-run double to the left-field corner. ... Braves CF B.J. Upton has his first four-hit game of the season to raise his average to a season-high .198. ... Nationals RHP Tanner Roark made his major league debut with two scoreless innings. He also made a superb defensive play, diving to catch Medlen's sacrifice bunt attempt and throwing to first for a double play. ... Heyward returned to the lineup after leaving Tuesday's game with a strained neck muscle. "I felt a lot better when I woke up," he said. "Didn't have any head weirdness or headache or anything like that."
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 07: Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann #27 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch in...(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Regular Season Series
|Atlanta leads 13-6 (as of Wed 8/7)|
|Fri 4/12||ATL 6, @WSH 4||Recap|
|Sat 4/13||ATL 3, @WSH 1||Recap|
|Sun 4/14||ATL 9, @WSH 0||Recap|
|Mon 4/29||@ATL 3, WSH 2||Recap|
|Tue 4/30||@ATL 8, WSH 1||Recap|
|Wed 5/1||WSH 2, @ATL 0||Recap|
|Thu 5/2||WSH 3, @ATL 1||Recap|
|Fri 5/31||WSH 3, @ATL 2||Recap|
|Sat 6/1||@ATL 2, WSH 1||Recap|
|Sun 6/2||@ATL 6, WSH 3||Recap|
|Mon 8/5||ATL 3, @WSH 2||Recap|
|Tue 8/6||ATL 2, @WSH 1||Recap|
|» Wed 8/7||ATL 6, @WSH 3||Box Score|
|Fri 8/16||@ATL 3, WSH 2||Recap|
|Sat 8/17||WSH 8, @ATL 7||Recap|
|Sun 8/18||@ATL 2, WSH 1||Recap|
|Tue 9/17||@WSH 6, ATL 5||Recap|
|Tue 9/17||@WSH 4, ATL 0||Recap|
|Wed 9/18||ATL 5, @WSH 2||Recap|
|Complete Schedule: Braves | Nationals|
|1st||F Freeman singled to center, J Heyward scored.||1||0|
|4th||K Medlen hit sacrifice fly to center, D Uggla scored, B Upton to third.||2||0|
|4th||J Werth homered to center (411 feet), B Harper scored.||2||2|
|7th||J Upton homered to left (402 feet).||3||2|
|7th||I Desmond grounded into fielder's choice to shortstop, J Werth scored, A LaRoche out at second.||3||3|
|8th||J Heyward singled to right, A Simmons scored, J Terdoslavich to third.||4||3|
|8th||J Upton doubled to deep left, J Terdoslavich and J Heyward scored.||6||3|
|View complete Play-By-Play|
|Stadium||Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.|
|Attendance||29,114 (70.1% full) - % is based on regular season capacity|
|Weather||81 degrees, cloudy|
|Umpires||Home Plate - Sam Holbrook, First Base - Adam Hamari, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Joe West|
With his single in the third inning, Justin Upton extended his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest active streak in the National League.
The Braves now have (4) 13-game win streaks in the Divisional Era. That's one more than the rest of the NL teams have combined.[+]
Most Single-Season 13-Game Win Streaks - NL Teams in Divisional Era (Since 1969)
Both the AL Central-leading Tigers and the NL-East leading Braves have won 10+ straight games (Atlanta has won 12 in a row). FROM ELIAS: This is the first time in MLB history that multiple division leaders have been on concurrent win streaks of at least 10 games after the beginning of August.
With his 3 RBI Wednesday, Justin Upton now has 12 RBI in August, already more than he had in 23 games in July (11 RBI). Upton has at least one RBI in six of his seven games in August.
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