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Weber pitches great, but Braves fall 3-0

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It counts as a series win, but the Atlanta Braves were unable to complete the sweep on Thursday night.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta bats fell completely silent, as the Washington Nationals salvaged a game in the series and defeated the Braves 3-0 on Thursday night at Turner Field.

Both starting pitchers were outstanding. Ryan Weber matched Stephen Strasburg pitch for pitch. Well, almost.

Weber hurled seven innings of five-hit baseball, walking no one and striking out ten batters, doubling his previous major league high. His only blemish was a Clint Robinson home run in the top of the second. Robinson lined a shot to the opposite field in left, and the ball just cleared the fence.

"He gave us every opportunity to win the ball game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said following the game. "Weber was great ... He makes his last start of the season here, and that was pretty darn impressive."

The rookie did not face much adversity at all during the game aside from the home run. Washington had a chance to make some noise in the fifth inning, but Weber recorded his first career pickoff, as Michael Taylor was caught leaning towards second. A perfect throw and tag from first baseman Nick Swisher retired the speedster.

"I kept the team in the game and we had a chance to win but we just couldn't push anything across against (Strasburg)," Weber said.

Weber pitched well enough to pick up his first major league win, but fell to 0-3 while slashing over a run off his ERA (from 5.91 to 4.76). He will take a great deal of positives into the offseason, as the 2009 22nd round pick showed himself and the organization that he has what it takes to be successful.

"I proved to myself that I can compete at this level and give a major league team a chance to win when I'm out there pitching," he said.

Unfortunately, he made one more mistake than Strasburg did.

Strasburg went six innings, allowing six hits, a walk, and no runs while striking out seven. He improved to 11-7 on the season, and worked out of jams in the second and sixth innings. Other than those two frames, the Braves hardly touched him.

After Strasburg gave way to the Washington bullpen, Atlanta threatened once again in the seventh inning. A Ryan Lavarnway walk and Michael Bourn two-out single gave the Braves a pair of baserunners again, but Cameron Maybin grounded out to end the frame.

The lone run would have been enough to win the game, but the Nationals added a pair of runs in the eighth inning thanks to some suspect defense from the Braves. Peter Moylan and Matt Marksberry each allowed the only batter they faced to reach base before Danny Burawa was summoned from the Atlanta pen. Burawa struck out Rendon, and got a double play grounder from Trea Turner. But problems arose.

Third baseman Adonis Garcia fielded the ball moving to his left, and his throw sailed high over the head of second baseman Jace Peterson. Yunel Escobar came around to score on the play, and Bryce Harper hustled to beat out a double play to score the final run of the game.

"We played good baseball other than that eighth inning. The ball never left the infield. You know what, we may not score in the ninth inning, but it's easier at 1-0 than 3-0," Gonzalez said.

Freddie Freeman's wrist has worsened in recent days, and he was unable to start the game. He entered the game in the bottom of the seventh as a pinch hitter, and flew out in his only plate appearance. He stayed in the game as a defensive replacement.

Ryan Lavarnway came on in the sixth inning, after catcher Christian Bethancourt left with a thumb injury. Hector Olivera was also out of the lineup with a left elbow contusion, presumably from where he was hit by a pitch on Tuesday.

Washington catcher Wilson Ramos, Maybin, and Garcia each picked up two hits in the game.

One series remains in the Braves season. The Cardinals make their presence known at Turner Field beginning Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET.