Instead, the Braves trail by six games after Kris Medlen fired seven scoreless innings. Detwiler dominated for 42
3 innings before the Braves finally solved his relentless fastball. He recorded only two more outs, a rapid descent no one could have predicted. The Nationals still took heart in winning the series, but they could have just about knocked the Braves out.
“A win like this kind of rejuvenates us,” Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. “This win allows us to take a deep breath. . . . We still have our sights set on the division. We’re not just going to concede it to them.”
The Braves, dating from last year, have won 16 consecutive games when Medlen starts. He cruised all game, keeping the Nationals off balance with a constant mix of speeds and pitches. When Washington finally a mounted a rally, he snuffed it immediately. Medlen, who started this year in the bullpen, walked only one and struck out seven as he lowered his ERA to 1.86.
“He’s one of those typical Braves pitchers,” Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “He spots up really good. He mixes his pitches. He’s a really good pitcher.”
The Nationals missed a monstrous chance to score off Medlen in the sixth. They loaded the bases as Jayson Werth hit a leadoff double, then Zimmerman singled and Michael Morse walked with one out. But Medlen scuttled the rally in three pitches. Adam LaRoche popped a first-pitch change-up to foul territory next to first base. Ian Desmond grounded the second pitch he saw to third, and Medlen had escaped.
The Nationals threatened again once Medlen left. In the eighth, Bryce Harper sparked a rally when he rolled a single through the shift to the left side off left-handed reliever Eric O’Flaherty. Harper sprinted to first and, when left fielder Reed Johnson made a slight bobble, he kept on running. He slide headfirst into second, safe. Two batters later, Morse scored him with a single.
After LaRoche walked, Desmond ended the threat with a double-play ball to shortstop. Worse, he seemed to injure his right leg as he tried to beat the throw, hopping the last few steps down the line. But he insisted to a trainer and Manager Davey Johnson he was fine, and he stayed in the game.
Desmond put a scare into everyone — “I forgot about the game when I saw him,” Johnson said. But after trainers checked out his knee, Desmond was certain he would be okay.