EVEN A 5-RUN LEAD ISN’T BIG ENOUGH FOR 16-26 NATS!

By Sam Bush

Despite opening up an early five-run lead, the Nationals gave it all back to the Braves for a 7-6 loss.

“They get such timely hits, it hurts my head to think about it,” right fielder Adam Eaton said. “It’s crazy. They need a hit, they get it.”

They got a bunch of needed hits, capped by Dansby Swanson’s eighth-inning solo shot off a high Tanner Rainey fastball, which broke a tie game and gave Atlanta its first lead of the night.

“It’s been tough the last few games against them, for sure,” Rainey said. “Just about any ball they put in the air seems like it just doesn’t stop lately.”

There’s been a whole lot of balls put in the air by Braves hitters off Nats pitchers this season, and tonight was merely the latest example. Swanson’s homer was the last of four big blasts during a five-inning stretch, the three biggest ones coming from their two usual suspects. Acuña and Freeman combined to hit three homers, each of them scoring two runs, off Austin Voth, Wander Suero and Will Harris to make a game out of what could’ve been a comfortable Nationals win.

Not that this was anything new. It was simply a continuation of last weekend’s developments at Truist Park, where Acuña and Freeman did the exact same thing. In five games between these two rivals over the last seven days, those two sluggers have combined for a staggering 10 homers and 21 RBIs.

“If you make your pitches, you can get those guys out,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We’ve got guys that can get them out, for sure. … When you get hitters like that, and they’re hot, and you look where they’re hitting the ball and doing their damage, you’ve got to try to stay away from there. Because right now, they’re not missing. They’re hitting the ball hard. We’ve just got to make better pitches in certain situations.”

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