By HARVEY VALENTINE
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nick Markakis didn’t show any rust in his return from the injured list.
Markakis went 2 for 4 with a sacrifice fly, Mike Soroka allowed one hit over six innings and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-0 on Friday night.
Atlanta moved 9½ games in front of Washington in the NL East and reduced its magic number to six.
“I was just up there trying to get comfortable again,” sad Markakis, who missed 43 games with a fractured wrist.
“Your first game back after seven weeks against a pitcher like (Max Scherzer) is not the easiest feat, so I was pleased. I didn’t see as many pitches as I would like to but when I did see my pitch, I tried not to miss it.”
Playing left field for the first time this season with lefty Matt Joyce in right against Scherzer, Markakis also made a sliding catch to take a hit away from Victor Robles.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was lifted for precautionary reasons in the fourth inning with right elbow soreness after aggravating a bone spur while diving for a ground ball.
“I’ve had it. I’ve felt it. I’ve played through it,” Freeman said of the spur. “Just today it was kind of a little bit more than I expected. Now it’s calmed completely down so I’m hoping that I’ll wake up and be able to play tomorrow.”
After giving up four runs on seven hits while losing to the Nationals and Scherzer Sunday in Atlanta, Soroka (12-4) bounced back.
“Anytime you get a chance for a rematch after an outing didn’t go your way the first time, I think you have a little more incentive and a little more giddy-up the second time around,” Soroka said.
Soroka, who struck out four and walked three, didn’t allow a hit until Adam Eaton’s leadoff double in the fourth.
Scherzer (10-6) gave up three runs on seven hits in five innings. Since returning from a trip to the injured list with a mid-back strain, he’s 1-1 with a 3.91 ERA in five starts.
“It’s new but there’s no excuses in this league,” Scherzer said of working his way back. “You’ve got to post, and you’ve got to go out there with everything you’ve got and you’ve got to execute. Everything’s on the line every single time you take the mound, so this is Major League baseball.”
Atlanta has won 10 of its past 14 games against Washington, which leads the NL wild card race.
Washington’s Juan Soto had a double and walked twice. Anthony Rendon went 0 for 4, ending his 27-game on-base streak.
Markakis doubled with one out in the fourth. Joyce singled him home and later scored on Dansby Swanson’s double.
“It’s pretty amazing with not really any at-bats — he had one little simulation game — he goes out there and hits missiles all over the yard,” Freeman said of Markakis.
With one out in the fifth, Markakis flied to the warning track, scoring Ronald Acuña Jr.
Albies led off the seventh with his 23rd homer.
Nationals first-base coach Tim Bogar was ejected for arguing a check swing call on Howie Kendrick in the eighth inning. “You usually don’t see that from Tim,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He just got a little irritated. He didn’t think (Kendrick) swung, (first base umpire) Tim (Timmons) said he did. More so, Tim’s trying to keep Howie in the game, because Howie said something, so he defended him.”
Braves: INF John Camargo was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right shin fracture. Manager Brian Snitker said Camargo could return before the season ends.
Nationals: C Kurt Suzuki (right elbow inflammation) may start swinging a bat by the end of the weekend, Martinez said. … 1B Matt Adams, who left Thursday’s game at Minnesota after hurting his left triceps, was being evaluated by team doctors.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (6-5, 5.00 ERA) allowed eight runs on eight hits over four innings in a no-decision June 22 at Washington.
Nationals: RHP Austin Voth (1-1, 4.00) is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA, 13 strikeouts and two walks in two starts against Atlanta this season.