Nats fall to Braves; magic number remains 6

Nats fall to Braves; magic number remains 6

ATLANTA -- Adonis Garcia went 3-for -4 with three RBIs to help the Braves defeat the Nationals, 6-2, on Sunday at Turner Field. Washington's magic number to clinch the National League East remained at six as the second-place Mets edged the Twins, 3-2.

The rubber game was called because of rain with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. There were two rain delays that each lasted more than an hour -- one in the top of the sixth and the one in the seventh.

"The grounds crew did what they could to save the field and then they called me out," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "... I went outside and for the safety of my players, the infield was like quicksand. It had a bunch of diamond dry on it and we can't afford to get anybody hurt, so we called the game."

The Braves were able to get to right-hander Joe Ross in the second, when Matt Kemp scored on a single by Jace Peterson. Ross was gone by the fourth, when Atlanta scored two more runs off Reynaldo Lopez on hits by Dansby Swanson and Garcia.

Peterson's RBI single

The Nationals made it a one-run game by the sixth before the Braves pulled away with a three-run sixth. Garcia highlighted the scoring, driving in two runs with a single to left.

"They're fighting to try to close the thing out," said Braves manager Brian Snitker about clinching the series. "So it's real good any time you beat them guys because we've had troubles the last couple of years with that club. It's good to go out and play two really good ballgames like we did to beat them in that series."

Double dip: Matt Wisler retired 16 of the first 19 batters he faced and held the Nationals scoreless through the first five innings with the assistance of a few timely ground balls. Swanson ranged to his right to begin a double play after Clint Robinson opened the second inning with a single. Wilson Ramos' fifth-inning leadoff single was negated when Ben Revere followed by grounding into a double play.

Braves' DP in the 2nd

Wisler adds another 'up' to roller-coaster year

"Dansby made a couple [of nice plays]," Snitker said. "The one short-hop ball that he made a [play on], my God, that was unbelievable really that he's got the wherewithal to make that play like that. So it was good. It's always good when you keep it on the ground and give yourself a chance."

Swanson's flashy play

A Ross sighting: Ross pitched his first game since July 2 against the Reds. After missing more than two months because of shoulder inflammation, he went three innings and allowed one run on six hits. His best inning was the first, when he struck out two. His sinker to strike out Freddie Freeman was clocked at 95 mph. Ross also escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the third.

Ross escapes jam in the 3rd

"I thought [Ross] was pretty good. We were contemplating taking him another inning, but we said, 'That's enough in his first time out,'" Baker said. "It's a welcome sight to see him back. ... He looked sharp. His command was good. The Braves loaded up the lineup with left-handers and they found quite a few holes [for hits]." More >

Patience is a virtue: Though Lopez possesses nasty stuff, the Braves showed some patience as they got to him during a two-run fourth. Peterson drew a seven-pitch walk to begin the frame and Swanson did not blink when he was pushed off the plate with a 2-2, 96-mph fastball. The rookie shortstop stayed alive by fouling the next pitch -- a 95-mph low-and-away fastball -- and then tomahawked an elevated 96-mph fastball over Bryce Harper's head for an RBI double.

Swanson's RBI double

"[Lopez] has good stuff and he throws very hard," Swanson said. "You've just got to match his aggressiveness and be on time. He's had some success and he's obviously going to be a good pitcher here for a while."

Cutting it in half: The Nationals made it a 3-2 game in the sixth. After hitting a triple with two outs, Trea Turner scored on a double by Jayson Werth, who would later score on a single by Harper.

Harper's RBI single in the 6th

Freeman extended his hitting streak to 22 games with a third-inning single, then notched his 76th extra-base hit with a RBI double in a three-run sixth. Chipper Jones (87 in 1999) is the only player in Atlanta history to record at least 80 extra-base hits in a season.

Freeman's RBI double

Wilmer Difo was thrown out at second base on a fielder's choice to end the seventh, but Baker thought Difo was safe. The play stood and the Nationals lost their challenge.

Nationals challenge out call

Nationals: The Nationals travel to Miami to play a three-game series against the Marlins. A.J. Cole will start Monday's opener at 7:05 p.m ET at Marlins Park. This will be Cole's first career start against the Marlins. He is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA against NL East teams this season.

Braves: Atlanta will begin a three-game series against the Mets at Citi Field on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Aaron Blair will make his first start in more than a month for the Braves. Blair has allowed at least five runs in three of his past four big league starts, but he pitched effectively for Triple-A Gwinnett during the International League playoffs.

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Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.