Their playoff hopes are fading as the season winds down, but the Atlanta Braves insist they’re not giving up.
The Braves (75-73) lost 7-4 to the Nationals (66-82) on Saturday, falling 5 1/2 games behind San Diego for the NL wild card. Atlanta remained 8 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets, but with 14 games remaining, it has all but conceded the division.
Four other teams stand between the Braves and the Padres, but Atlanta is staying positive.
“Our backs have been against the wall for a while now, so we’ll try to get them tomorrow,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “We’re going to stay optimistic. We’re going to try to win every game.
“We go out there and win tomorrow, and win the next game, and get a roll, anything can happen. No one in here is giving up.”
However, a pair of light-hitting Washington batters did in the Braves. D’Angelo Jimenez, who came in hitting .176, hit his first homer of the season, and Robert Fick, who entered batting . 213, added a pinch-hit, three-run shot.
Chipper Jones also homered for the Braves, and the four homers in the game for both teams were a season high at RFK. Saturday’s contest was the second in the final homestand at the aging park as the Nationals prepare to move into a new stadium next season.
The Braves are hoping Hudson (15-8, 3.48 ERA) can hold the Nationals’ bats in check in the finale.
He has been dominant against the Nationals’ franchise in the past, going 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA in seven career starts. Hudson has won each of his three starts against Washington this season, allowing just two runs in 21 innings for a 0.86 ERA.
However, Hudson is 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA in four starts since winning nine straight decisions. He gave up three runs in seven innings on Monday but was charged with the 3-2 loss to the New York Mets.
Hudson, who allowed a two-run homer to David Wright, has yielded four of his nine homers this season in his last three starts.
Washington counters with Shawn Hill (4-3, 2.87), who has allowed three or fewer earned runs in all but one of his 14 starts this season. However, he won for the first time since May 11 in his last start on Monday, allowing one earned run in six innings of a 5-4 victory at Florida. He did not return after a rain delay in the top of the seventh.
Hill injured his right elbow in that May 11 start, also against Florida, and is 1-0 with a 3.11 ERA in six starts since returning on Aug. 14.
His only previous start against the Braves came on June 6 last season, when he allowed four runs in six innings of a 5-3 loss in Atlanta.