McGowin, Nats’ bullpen dominates in 10-4 win over Braves

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Tyler Matzek, center, cannot get a glove on a toss from first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) as Washington Nationals’ Victor Robles (16) runs safely to first on a one-run bunt during the sixth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

ATLANTA (AP) — The Washington Nationals, playing without Juan Soto and some other top hitters, manufactured big offense without a home run.

That was more than enough to overwhelm an Atlanta Braves team that hit three homers.

Victor Robles’ third hit, a bunt single in the sixth inning, gave Washington the lead, Brock Holt had four hits and the Nationals leaned on their bullpen to beat the Braves 10-4 Saturday night.

“I love what we did with our bats today, so let’s continue to do that,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It’d be nice to hit a homer every now and then, though.”

Soto and Adam Eaton, two-thirds of Washington’s regular starting outfield, have missed each of the first three games of the series with injuries.

The Nationals still scored 10 runs on 14 hits.

Atlanta led 4-3 before Washington scored twice in the sixth. Luis Garcia’s run-scoring single tied the game before Robles placed a bunt single between first baseman Freddie Freeman and reliever Tyler Matzek (3-3), driving in Holt from third with the go-ahead run.

Holt’s fourth hit was an RBI single in the ninth, when the Nationals scored five runs.

Kyle McGowin (1-0) had four strikeouts in 2 1/3 perfect innings to earn his first major league win. McGowin, Wander Suero, Sean Doolittle and Ryne Harper combined for 5 1/3 hitless innings.

McGowin was recalled from the team’s alternate training site on Wednesday.

“It’s a new year for me, a new role, I had to learn it,” McGowin said. “I just took my time down there and tried to learn every little detail I needed to learn.”

After hitting three homers in Friday’s doubleheader split, Ronald Acuña Jr. made Braves history by leading off the first with a homer against Erick Fedde. The 22-year-old Acuña set the Braves record with 18 career leadoff homers. Felipe Alou had 17 for Atlanta from 1966-69.

Three of Acuña’s nine homers this season have led off a game.

Fedde gave up a two-run homer to Travis d’Arnaud in the third and a line-drive shot to Adam Duvall to open the fourth. Atlanta has hit 10 homers in the first three games of the four-game series.

Fedde gave up four runs in 3 2/3 innings — his third straight game allowing four or more runs.

Atlanta starter Max Fried was denied his seventh win. He said his velocity “was definitely down” as he allowed three runs in five innings.

“Sometimes you just don’t feel physically your best and it’s just at that point you might not have it that day,” Fried said. “I just want to be able to go out there and try to compete, throw some good pitches, try to get some outs, let the defense work.”


Nationals: Martinez said Soto (sore left elbow) “feels a little bit better.” Eaton (jammed knee) also might avoid the injured list. … Martinez said INF/OF Josh Harrison (bruised left forearm) was “a little beat up. He’s sore.”

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies (bruised right wrist) continues to move closer to ending his month-long say on the IL. He took batting practice and fielded grounders. Following another day of increased work on Sunday, Albies could play a simulated game at the alternate training site.


Nationals third baseman Carter Kieboom, recalled before the game, drove in Trea Turner with a bloop single for a 2-0 lead in the first inning. He has been given the full-time starting job for the remainder of the season.

“It’s what I need,” Kieboom said. “I need to play every day. I need to play as much as possible and see the action.”


Nationals infielder Wilmer Difo was designated for assignment. The Braves recalled right-hander Chad Sobotka, who gave up five runs in the ninth, including a two-run double to Garcia and run-scoring doubles to Howie Kendrick and Kurt Suzuki. Atlanta optioned right-hander Huascar Ynoa to its alternate site.


Atlanta’s first error of the season by a middle infielder helped Washington score a run in the fifth.

Second baseman Johan Camargo fielded a grounder by Kendrick and threw wide to shortstop Dansby Swanson at second in an attempt to start a double play. Robles scored from third on the throwing error.


Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin, who was 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts against the Braves in 2019, will start in Sunday’s final game of the series.

Braves: RHP Josh Tomlin (1-2, 4.37) will make his fourth start after opening the season in the bullpen.


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