The Washington Post

Anthony Rendon’s three-hit night helps Nationals beat rival Braves

Jose Lobaton scores on Anthony Rendon’s single in the third inning. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Atlanta Braves pitchers have vexed the Washington Nationals this season, but third baseman Anthony Rendon made facing them look easy Saturday night.

“I’m just trying to keep it simple and stay short to the ball and put the barrel on it — that’s my whole key every time I hit,” Rendon said. “I just got pretty lucky the last couple of days.”

Rendon went 3 for 4 to power the Nationals to a 3-0 win. Facing Braves right-hander Julio Teheran — Atlanta’s best pitcher this season — Rendon had two singles and a double and finished with two RBI.

His three hits against Teheran were to center field, the last one hit so hard it sailed past Braves center fielder B.J. Upton, who opted to play the ball off the wall rather than trying for a leaping catch. Entering Saturday night, Teheran had a 2.31 ERA, ranking sixth in the majors and third in the National League.

In Friday night’s extra-inning loss, it was Rendon who got to Braves closer Craig Kimbrel for a game-tying two-run home run in the ninth with “one of the coolest swings I’ve ever seen,” utility man Kevin Frandsen said.

But it was small ball that pushed the Nationals ahead on Saturday. Pitcher Doug Fister sacrificed catcher Jose Lobaton to second in the third and seventh innings. Each time, a Rendon hit brought Lobaton home.

“Anthony did what Anthony does,” Washington Manager Matt Williams said. “He hit the ball in the middle of the field. The last one he drove pretty good. With the opportunities that are out there, that single means a lot. Two-run homers are great, too, but the frequency with which that happens is not as great as a single. He drove [Lobaton] in. It’s a great night for him. He’s back to hitting the ball low and hard through the middle, which is a very good sign for him.”

Rendon entered Saturday night’s game hitting .206 against the Braves this season, a familiar trend for the Nationals, who as a team were hitting .218 against Atlanta since the start of 2013.

For at least one night, however, Rendon and the Nationals got the best of their division rivals, even if Washington is still just 2-7 against Atlanta this season.

“We have a great pitching staff as well and we held a great offense to no runs. That’s what’s awesome about it,” Rendon said. “We scored the minimum amount of runs, and we still got the win.”

Isabelle Khurshudyan covers the Washington Capitals. You can email her at and follow her on Twitter @ikhurshudyan.


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