WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Dan Uggla #26 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates with Jason Heyward #22 after scoring in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 23, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Tim Hudson had a 3-0 lead before he even took the mound. Three straight singles in the first inning with one out plated the first run. Freddie Freeman drove in another one with a single to center and the third scored thanks to Ryan Zimmerman's error on Jack Wilson's grounder.
Wilson Ramos singled home a run in the second, but aside from that, Hudson was brilliant through the first five innings, striking out four while allowing five hits.
Strasburg exited after four innings, and the Braves offense went to work against the Washington bullpen. Collin Balester walked two in the fifth before surrendering a run-scoring double to Dan Uggla. Balester was replaced with Atahualpa Severino and he promptly allowed a two-run double to Brian McCann.
However, Hudson encountered trouble in the sixth. He fielded a ground ball from Ryan Zimmerman and although he got the out, he wasn't the same after that. Michael Morse followed with a double and scored on Jayson Werth's single. Danny Espinosa singled and one out later, Ramos drove in his second run of the game, cutting the lead to 6-3. Hudson was pulled after that, lasting 5.2 innings while allowing nine hits.
Jonny Venters allowed a solo homer to Jayson Werth in the eighth, but the Nationals could get no closer. The Braves added an insurance run in the ninth in a most wacky fashion. Michael Bourn was on second with one out and Chipper Jones was batting. Reliever Henry Rodriguez fielded a ground ball from Chipper and froze Bourn between second and third. He threw to third to chase Bourn back to second but Chipper was already at second, forcing him to retreat back to first. Zimmerman threw across to chase Chipper back, allowing Bourn to take third easily. While Chipper was in a rundown, Bourn realized no one was covering home and easily scored the final run of the game.
Craig Kimbrel struck out two in the ninth for his 46th save.
Atlanta's magic number to clinch is down to 3 with Chicago's 5-1 win over St. Louis.