Atlanta (83-70) at Washington (52-101)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Sat Sep 26, 2009
  • TV: SPSO, MASN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Though their chances are slim, the Atlanta Braves are still in contention for a postseason berth. Facing the Washington Nationals could help prolong their playoff hopes.

The visiting Braves look for a fifth straight victory while trying to continue their success against the last-place Nationals on Saturday.

Following a sweep of New York, Atlanta (83-70) improved to 4-0 on its final road trip of the season after winning 4-1 in the opener of this set on Friday.

The Braves, who’ve won 13 of 16, are 3 1/2 games behind wild-card leader Colorado with nine remaining. Six of those contests are against Washington (52-101), which is one loss shy of matching its total from last season.

“It’s important for us to win every game from now on because Colorado is ahead,” said Atlanta’s Javier Vazquez(notes), who tossed a three-hitter for his third complete game of the season Friday.

Martin Prado(notes) and Chipper Jones(notes) each had two hits as the Braves won their third straight over the Nationals and improved to 8-4 against them this season.

Prado, who hit his 11th homer, is 17 for 33 with two home runs and seven RBIs in his last eight games. The second baseman is batting .441 with two homers versus Washington this year as he is enjoying a breakout season.

While the Braves are hitting .279 over their last 16 contests, they also have a 2.89 ERA over that span. Josh Bard’s(notes) homer Friday was the 109th allowed by Atlanta - lowest in the majors.

Rookie Tommy Hanson(notes) (10-4, 2.85 ERA) looks to remain perfect against the Nationals when he takes the ball for the Braves.

The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA in two starts versus Washington, but hopes to bounce back after giving up four runs, seven hits and four walks in five innings of a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.

Hanson, who had not allowed a run in 19 straight innings before giving up one in the third versus the Phillies, remains a serious candidate for NL rookie of the year.

“Really, I just want to finish strong,” Hanson told the Braves’ official Web site. “Then we’ll see what happens.”

Washington sluggers Adam Dunn(notes) and Ryan Zimmerman(notes) are 2 for 11 with five strikeouts combined against Hanson. Dunn, who’s hit 38 home runs, is batting .194 with one homer over his last 11 games.

The Nationals committed two more errors Friday to raise their total to 135 - by far the most in the majors.

“Basically, we’re in a funk here where if it can go wrong, it’s going to go wrong,” Washington interim manager Jim Riggleman said.

Garrett Mock(notes) (3-9, 5.83) tries to avoid a fifth straight loss when he takes the ball for the Nats after allowing four runs and nine hits in seven innings of a 6-2 loss at New York on Sunday.

The right-hander, who’s 0-4 with a 7.00 ERA in his last five starts, makes his against Atlanta. Mock, however, is 1-1 with a 1.42 ERA in six relief appearances versus the Braves.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Hanson CWS vs. G. Mock Ari
11-4 Record 3-10
2.89 ERA 5.62
116 K 72
46 BB 44
1.18 WHIP 1.73

Scoreboard

Saturday, Sep 26