WASHINGTON -- After the Nationals dropped the first two games of the series, manager Dusty Baker decided to give many of his regular position players a day off in order to recharge. So Baker turned to a lineup filled with his team's young talent, which provided a spark in the Nationals' 5-2 victory on Thursday night against the Braves at Nationals Park.
"It's much like you're tired and you come home and your kids give you energy," Baker said. "The young players, I've always said you hope that they give you energy, and we give them some wisdom and knowledge on how to play the game."
Their offense helped back another quality start from right-hander Tanner Roark, who was held up by a 30-minute rain delay at the start of the game before limiting the Braves to two runs over six innings. It marked Roark's seventh quality start in his last eight outings, as he continues to round into form heading into the postseason.
"I learned from early on in the year," Roark said. "Just keep going at it, keep grinding, keep working hard. It'll turn around. I'm a firm believer in that."
Now, the Nationals can turn their attention to this weekend's matchup with the Dodgers, a three-game series at Nationals Park that could serve as a potential postseason preview. Washington will try to pull within striking distance of Los Angeles for the best record in the National League, a race the Dodgers currently lead by five games.
"These will be exciting games," outfielder Jayson Werth said. "When you clinch as early as we did, it's good to have a series like this. It'll be exciting. Obviously they're a good club. We played them last year. It should be exciting. Maybe a little playoff preview. Maybe not. We'll see."
Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz had his outing cut short, leaving the game after four innings with a cut on the tip of his right middle finger. He gave up three runs on four hits with three strikeouts and one walk before exiting. Foltynewicz said afterward the cut came from rubbing the ball too hard.
"I kinda felt it a little bit of it, I didn't think anything of it," Foltynewicz said. "And then when I continued to throw and once I got into the dugout and looked at it, it was just bleeding."
Added Braves manager Brian Snitker: "It was just tough. That's a big inning in a game when you lose your starter. Folty was throwing the ball good and doing great. And then it's just unfortunate that that happened, because we needed him to get through that inning."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Robles shows off his wheels: It has only been a week since Robles' callup, but the Nationals' top prospect is already giving them a glimpse of the threat he can be on the basepaths. On his RBI triple in the fourth inning, Robles raced from home to third base in 11.12 seconds -- the fastest time for any Nationals player since Statcast™ began tracking the data. The three-bagger gave the 20-year-old his second career RBI and extended the Nats' lead to 2-0.
"I'm always thinking third base," Robles said through an interpreter. "Unless the coach stops me." More >
Albies extends hitting streak:Ozzie Albies got the Braves right back in the game in the sixth inning, launching a Statcast-projected 390-foot home run to left-center field to cut the deficit to 3-2. The knock was not only his second in three days, but it extended the 20-year-old rookie's hit streak to 12 games. Albies has four home runs since he made his Major League debut on Aug. 1.
"He just keeps doing it," Snitker said of Albies. "It's fun to watch this kid play. He's another very skilled young player. … He's going to be on that TV every now and then with the stuff he's gonna do in this game." More >
"You don't know what you're getting with these kids when they come up here. You've never seen them play. You see them in Spring Training, but that doesn't mean anything. We've got a lot of talent coming up. This organization is really deep. As a Nats fan going forward, that's pretty good. This team should be very good for years to come." -- Werth, on watching Robles and the rest of the young players on Thursday night
LOBATON LEAVES GAME
The Nationals lost their backup catcher in the second inning when Jose Lobaton left the game with a contusion on his left ankle after being struck by an errant pitch. X-rays were negative, but Baker said Lobaton will be sidelined for at least a few games. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Braves: The Braves head back to SunTrust Park for their final homestand of the season, which will begin with a three-game weekend set against the Mets. Friday's series opener (7:35 p.m. ET first pitch) will see lefty Sean Newcomb (2-8, 4.38 ERA) oppose the Mets' Rafael Montero (5-9, 5.05 ERA).
Nationals: The Nationals welcome the Dodgers to Washington for a three-game series and potential postseason preview beginning at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday. Washington is trying to pull within striking distance of Los Angeles for the best record in the National League and will send right-hander Edwin Jackson (5-5, 3.88 ERA) to the mound.