MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Rivero gets final 6 to record first career save

Nationals reliever has 2.85 ERA in 48 games this season

Rivero gets final 6 to record first career save

ATLANTA -- Now that Jonathan Papelbon is suspended for the rest of the 2015 season for his altercation with outfielder Bryce Harper in the dugout Sunday, the Nationals had to find another pitcher to close out games.

In their 3-0 victory over the Braves on Thursday night, left-hander Felipe Rivero was the guy who closed out the ninth inning and saved his first big league game. He entered the game in the eighth inning and retired the next six hitters he faced.

"It feels great," Rivero said. "This year is kind of progression for me. I was able to get my first win and my first save in the same year. I wasn't expecting that."

The Nationals acquired Rivero from the Rays as part of the Nathan Karns deal in February 2014. Rivero was expected to be one of Washington's starters in the future, but manager Matt Williams sent him to Minor League camp last year to work on being a reliever. Rivero didn't have a problem with making the switch.

"I said OK. If I have to make the team that way, I'm going to get used to it," Rivero said.

Rivero has turned out to be one of the best relievers in the Nationals bullpen this year. Entering Friday's action, he has a 2.85 ERA in 48 games and Williams has used him quite a bit in the late innings.

"I work on it day by day, not trying to do too much. I'm just doing my job. That's all," he said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All theTime. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.