Winners of 13 straight division titles, the Atlanta Braves have specialized in beating up on lesser opponents during their amazing run.
They’ll try to duplicate last season’s success against the Washington Nationals when they open a three-game series at Turner Field.
Atlanta went 15-4 against the former Montreal Expos in 2004, winning all six series between the clubs. That included a 6-1 mark in July when the Braves began a surge that gave them a comfortable lead atop the NL East.
The Braves have already sent a message to the division by winning their first two series against Florida and the New York Mets. Atlanta has done it with strong pitching, including a combined 3.69 ERA by its starters through six games.
John Smoltz was the latest starter to deliver with 7 1-3 stellar innings Sunday, but he was outpitched by Pedro Martinez as Atlanta’s four-game winning streak ended with a 6-1 loss to the Mets. Smoltz took a six-hit shutout into the eighth inning and matched a career high and Atlanta record with 15 strikeouts. But he tired in the eighth, allowing a two-run homer to Carlos Beltran that sent him to his second loss.
The Braves may have second baseman Marcus Giles back in the lineup Monday. Giles, who has missed the last two games, needed crutches after fouling a ball off his left foot Friday, but was able to walk without them Sunday.
Washington has had trouble scoring recently, managing a total of three runs and 17 hits over the weekend in losing two of three at Florida. The Nationals were blanked on Friday and Sunday.
Washington will be making its final stop on a three-city road trip before playing its highly anticipated home opener at RFK Stadium on Thursday against Arizona.