Thanks to some strong pitching performances, the last-place Washington Nationals are suddenly on a roll.
The Nationals will try for their fifth straight victory Tuesday when they continue their four-game series with the Atlanta Braves at RFK Stadium.
Jason Bergmann took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and ended up allowing only one run in eight innings of Monday’s series-opening, 2-1 victory - his first win in the majors as a starter. The Nationals (13-25) have won four in a row at home after dropping eight straight road games.
“I really thought he was going to do it,” Washington manager Manny Acta said of Bergmann. “He was spectacular.”
Washington’s starters have earned three victories during the winning streak, while allowing only five earned runs in 22 2-3 innings. The bullpen has been strong as well, giving up just two runs in 13 1-3 frames.
The Nationals had won back-to-back games just twice this season before their current run, their longest since a five-game winning streak from Aug. 31-Sept. 4 of last year. Despite their winning streak, the Nationals still own the worst record in the National League.
The Nationals activated closer Chad Cordero from the bereavement list before the game after he spent the previous five days with his ailing grandmother, who died Thursday. Cordero has blown four of eight save chances this season, but said that his grandmother’s health problems had been distracting him.
Acta plans to ease Cordero, who did not appear in Monday’s game, back into the closer’s role and use him in the middle innings for a while.
Brian McCann broke up the no-hitter with a homer to provide the offense for the Braves (24-14), who have dropped their last two contests after a five-game winning streak. The latest loss dropped Atlanta out of first place in the NL East, a half-game behind the New York Mets.
Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones was originally in Monday’s lineup, but was scratched and missed his third straight game after bruising his wrists and thumbs in a collision with the Pirates’ Jose Bautista on Friday. Jones made five trips to the disabled list in the previous three seasons, but has started 34 games this season, hitting .303 with 10 homers, 28 runs and 23 RBIs.
Tim Hudson (4-1, 1.83 ERA) will look to help the Braves bounce back after allowing two runs and nine hits in six innings of Thursday’s 5-3 win over San Diego. Hudson, who has not given up more than three runs in any of his eight starts, failed to go seven innings for the first time this season but won for the first time since April 20.
The right-hander did not walk a batter and has allowed just one base on balls in 30 innings over his last four outings.
“It’s one of those things where you just try to go out there and make good pitches, keep them off-balance, mix it up, in and out, and try to turn it up whenever I needed to,” he told the Braves’ official Web site.
Hudson has pitched well against the Nationals franchise, going 2-1 with a 1.30 ERA in five career starts against them. He threw seven innings in an 8-0 victory over Washington on April 10.
The Nationals will activate Jerome Williams (0-4, 6.11) from the disabled list to try for his first win of the season. Williams held the New York Mets hitless through 5 1-3 innings in his last start on April 28, and ended up allowing just one hit in six scoreless innings before spraining his left ankle in the Mets’ 12-inning, 6-2 win.
Williams, who made a rehab start at Triple-A Columbus on Thursday, is 1-2 with a 4.15 ERA in five career starts against the Braves.