Braves Bullpen Falters As Washington Beats Atlanta 7-3 In 11 Innings

A day after the Braves late comeback bid fell short, the Nationals used a late comeback of their own to tie the game in the ninth inning against Craig Kimbrel, and then blew it open against Scott Linebrink in the 11th to beat Atlanta 7-3.

Things started off well enough for the Braves, as Martin Prado led off the game with a single that bounced off the arm of Nationals starter John Lannan. Lannan would strike out Alex Gonzalez but then walked Chipper Jones on four straight pitches to put runners on first and second. Brian McCann then extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games with a double off the right field wall that scored Prado and Chipper, giving Atlanta an early 2-0 lead.

The Nationals however would strike right back as Wilson Ramos lead off the top of the second with a double into left center-field. Laynce Nix would then follow with a single to right field that would plate Ramos and cut the Braves lead to 2-1.

The rest after the jump. 

There wouldn't be anymore scoring until the seventh inning, but the Nationals constantly put pressure on the Braves, as Washington had a runner in scoring position in every inning but the eighth. Tommy Hanson didn't have his best stuff tonight, as he struggled all night with his fastball command. Hanson had over 60 pitches through three innings, and went deep into counts with batter after batter due to that lack of fastball command. 

The final line on Hanson was 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K. He threw 94 pitches, 56 of them going for strikes.

Eric Hinske would break the offensive lull in the seventh inning, when he crushed a homer to right field off Nationals left hander Doug Slaten, extending the Braves lead to 3-1.

Cory Gearrin, Eric O' Flaherty, and Jonny Venters would combine to pitch 2.1 innings of scoreless relief to get the ball to Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning with that same 3-1 lead.

Kimbrel however, wasn't up to the task tonight. Sudden Braves killer Laynce Nix would lead off the inning with a single to left field, but would come back to strike out Danny Espinosa. Jerry Hairston Jr. would then single, putting runners on first and second. Pinch hitter Matt Stairs then was promptly walked on four straight pitches by Kimbrel to load the bases.

Another pinch hitter, Alex Cora, then came up to the plate. After Kimbrel fell behind him 2-1, Cora took a fastball from Kimbrel back up the middle, scoring Nix and Hairston to tie the game up at three. This was Kimbrel's third blown save of the year, and it sent the game into extra innings.

Things would stay tied at three until the 11th inning, when the Nationals pounced on Scott Linebrink, who had gotten the last out in the 10th and was on for another inning. 

After getting Hairston out to start the frame, Linebrink would hit Pudge Rodriguez on a two-strike pitch, putting him on first. Alex Cora would then single and advance Rodriguez to third as he was running on the pitch. Ian Desmond then followed with a double that got into the left field corner, scoring Rodriguez and Cora, giving the Nationals a 5-3 lead. As if that weren't enough, Jayson Werth came up and crushed a two-run homer to left field, extending the lead to 7-3 in favor of Washington. 

Right-hander Tyler Clippard would come on and get the save, allowing a lead-off double to Chipper Jones but nothing more. 

Drew Storen would pick up the win after pitching a scoreless 10th inning for Washington.

WP

Drew Storen (3-1), 1 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

LP

Scott Linebrink (0-1), 1.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP.

Save

Tyler Clippard, 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

Up next:

Atlanta tries to avoid getting swept as they send Derek Lowe to the mound against Jordan Zimmerman.

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