The Washington Nationals may not be contenders, but they are entering the season’s final month on a high note.
Washington tries to win its season-high fifth straight game Saturday when it continues a three-game home series against the Atlanta Braves.
With 27 games remaining, Washington (50-85) owns the worst record in the majors. Still, the Nationals have won four straight and six of their last eight for one of their best stretches of the season. After sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers, they opened their series against the Braves (59-76) with a 7-3 win on Friday.
Ryan Zimmerman and Lastings Milledge each drove in a pair of runs for Washington, which is averaging 5.6 runs in the last eight games - well above the 2.2 it averaged during the 12-game losing streak that preceded this stretch.
“We don’t remember the losing streak. You remember that,” manager Manny Acta told reporters. “We have played good the last four games. … We’re enjoying it right now.”
This is the Nationals’ third four-game winning streak of the season. They last won five in a row Sept. 1-4, 2007.
“Right now, everybody’s playing well, everybody’s having fun,” outfielder Willie Harris said. “It’s a lot more fun around here when you’re winning and we’re going to try to finish up strongly.”
The Braves, meanwhile, have lost 14 of their last 18. Greg Norton hit a two-run homer in a three-run fifth inning on Friday, but Atlanta had already given up five runs by then.
“We have to swing the bats early,” said catcher Brian McCann, who had two hits. “Everything gets magnified when you don’t swing the bats.”
Jo-Jo Reyes (3-10, 5.34) knows how frustrating it can be when the Braves don’t score. Atlanta is providing the 23-year-old left-hander with a scant 3.1 run support average.
Reyes has lost his last six decisions since beating the Angels on June 13. After a brief stint in the minors, he was recalled Aug. 19 and has made two starts since.
On Sunday, he allowed six runs - five earned - and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-3 loss to St. Louis.
The Nationals hit Reyes hard on July 20 at Atlanta, as he allowed six runs and seven hits in 2 1-3 innings of a 15-6 loss.
Washington counters with another double-digit loser in Jason Bergmann (2-10, 4.56). The right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.47 ERA in his last three starts, including a 6-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, when he gave up four runs - three of them in the second inning - in 6 1-3 frames.
Bergmann is 4-2 with a 3.68 lifetime ERA in seven starts and eight relief appearances against the Braves. He’s allowed five runs in four innings of relief against them this season.