Washington (1-7) at Atlanta (6-1)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Wed Apr 11, 2007
  • TV: MASN2, FSS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Washington Nationals are off to a slow start, and playing the red-hot Atlanta Braves isn’t helping.

The Nationals looks to end a five-game losing streak Wednesday when they continue their three-game series with the Braves at Turner Field.

Washington (1-7) has been outscored 53-18 and has yet to lead any point in a game. Its lone win—a 7-6 victory over Florida last Wednesday—came on a ninth-inning single by Dmitri Young.

“We’re still waiting for that lead,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “We haven’t gotten a lead yet.”

Washington managed only four hits in Tuesday’s 8-0 series-opening defeat. The Nationals have fallen behind by at least 3-0 in every game and have yet to score in the first three innings of any game.

Adding to their woes Tuesday were two errors, including a dropped pop-up by shortstop Ronnie Belliard that led to three unearned runs.

“There’s only so much you can do about working on catching a throw, catching a pop-up,” Acta said. “We have to do those types of things. We’re going to have to start catching the ball.”

The Nationals are already 5 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Braves (6-1), who are hoping to bounce back from last season’s third-place finish that ended their run of 14 straight division titles. Atlanta is 6-1 for the first time since winning seven of its first eight en route to the 1995 World Series title.

“Obviously it hurts them having Nick Johnson out of the lineup,” said Atlanta’s Jeff Francouer said, referring to the Nationals first baseman who is recovering from a broken right leg. “They’re young. They’re building. They’ll have a new stadium next year and will get going. They remind me a lot of the Marlins last year; once they get going they’ll be tough.”

Francouer drove in five runs in Tuesday’s win, including three with an eighth-inning homer. Andruw Jones, who hit 92 homers the last two seasons, entered the game hitting just .130 (3-for-23) but homered for the first time in the fourth inning.

Chipper Jones went 2-for-4 with a run after entering the game batting just .227 (5-for-22), and Tim Hudson threw seven strong innings.

“I couldn’t ask for a better start to my season,” Hudson said. “As a team we couldn’t ask for a better start, either.”

Chuck James (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will look to keep the Braves rolling on Wednesday. He is coming off a strong season debut in which he allowed just one run in five innings of Thursday’s 8-4 win over Philadelphia.

James went 11-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 25 appearances, including 18 starts, as a rookie in 2006. He made three starts against the Nationals, going 1-1 with a 4.96 ERA in those outings.

Washington will counter with Jerome Williams (0-1, 6.00 ERA), who allowed five runs in six innings of Friday’s 7-1 loss to Arizona in his season debut. He has made three career starts against the Braves, going 1-0 with a 3.54 ERA.

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15 K 116
18 BB 58
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Wednesday, Apr 11