ATLANTA -- The Nationals clubbed two grand slams in the same game for the first time since 2009 thanks to Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman as part of an offensive outburst in a 14-4 victory over the Braves on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park.
Washington collected a season-high 20 hits and continued its dominance over Atlanta, improving to 31-9 against its National League East rival since the start of the 2015 season.
Harper extended his mastery of Julio Teheran, drilling a first-inning solo shot and adding a second-inning grand slam to secure the 12th multi-homer game of his career. He notched a four-hit game, and Zimmerman recorded his sixth career grand slam off Ian Krol in the eighth inning. That provided some comfort for Joe Ross, who endured a two-run first before settling in and limiting the Braves to three runs over seven frames in his season debut.
The visitors tallied seven earned runs over just four innings against Teheran. Harper, who has hit .455 (15-for-33) with seven homers in his career against the Braves' ace, caused most of the damage.
"[Harper] is real hot right now, obviously, and Julio was a little off and we got hurt," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "But with that being said, when he left, we were in the game. The eighth inning was what killed us. I was still feeling good at 7-3. We had two at-bats left. Who knows what might happen? The way these guys keep fighting, that eighth inning was toughest to [swallow], more than the early innings when you have time to come back."
Freddie Freeman became the first player in Atlanta Braves history to reach safely in 12 consecutive plate appearances when he hit a third-inning solo home run that traveled an estimated 420 feet with a 102-mph exit velocity, per Statcast™.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Early power display: Harper drilled the first pitch he saw -- a 90.7-mph fastball -- an estimated 388 feet with a 103-mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™, over the right-center-field wall with two outs in the first inning. While that solo shot might not have been a home run at Turner Field, which had a 390-foot power alley in right-center, his grand slam was a no-doubter as it traveled 415 feet with a 106-mph exit velocity.
"I just try to have good at-bats and try to get pitches over the plate that I can drive and not look at who I'm facing that day or what he's going to do to me or anything like that," Harper said. "Just trying to see a pitch and try to drive it as best I can, and hopefully good things will happen."
Quick recovery: It looked like Ross might be in trouble when he retired just one of the first five batters faced and allowed RBI singles to both Nick Markakis and Brandon Phillips. But he ended the first-inning threat on Adonis Garcia's fifth double-play groundout of the season. Ross showed some poise as he retired 14 of the final 15 batters faced after Freeman's home run.
"I just tried to keep my breaking ball down," Ross said. "The first few innings, I hung a few sliders that they hit early in the count. So they kind of took advantage of that. But after that, I just tried to work quick, get ground-ball outs, work on my sinker, and it kind of paid off."
Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth exited in the third inning after sustaining a groin spasm on a check swing. He was briefly checked on by the team training staff before being taken out in the middle of the at-bat for Chris Heisey, who stayed in the game to play left field. Baker said after the game that Werth is day to day. More >
"As much as we would like Julio to be perfect every single time, it's just not possible. It's bound to happen one or two times, but hopefully that's all that it happens. It's baseball. If you make 34 or 35 starts, you're not going to have a good start every time." -- Freeman
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After hitting a pair of long balls on Wednesday, Harper now has 30 home runs in the season's first month (March/April) since 2013, tying Justin Upton for the most in the Majors during that span.
This marked the first time the Nationals produced two grand slams in a game since Josh Willingham hit a pair in Milwaukee on July 27, 2009.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals:Stephen Strasburg will try to continue his early-season success as the Nationals go for a sweep of the Braves in Thursday's series finale. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. ET. Strasburg has lasted seven innings in each of his first three outings and allowed three runs or fewer.
Braves:Matt Kemp is expected to return to the lineup when Atlanta sends R.A. Dickey to the mound on Thursday. Kemp has been sidelined since April 7 with a strained left hamstring.