Washington (58-103) at Atlanta (86-75)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 76° F
  • Game info: 1:35 pm EDT Sun Oct 4, 2009
  • TV: MASN, FSS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A five-game losing streak late in the season cost the Atlanta Braves a chance to return to the playoffs. Now, they’re looking to avoid getting swept by the Washington Nationals franchise in a four-game series for the first time in more than 22 years.

Atlanta will try to avoid matching that in the season finale against the last-place Nationals on Sunday.

The Braves (86-75) won 15 of 17 to move within two games to Colorado in the NL wild-card chase after a 4-0 win over Florida on Monday. However, they’ve dropped all five games since - including the first three of this series - to fall out of contention.

Atlanta lost 6-4 in 11 innings Saturday as Washington center fielder Justin Maxwell(notes) connected for a two-run homer. The Braves also fell a game behind Florida for second place in the East.

“It just stinks, but when you’re out of it, you’re out of it,” first baseman Adam LaRoche(notes) said. “Second place is nice, but you’re not playing for the prize we wanted.”

The Braves haven’t been swept by the Nationals (58-103) in a four-game set since July 16-19, 1987 in Montreal.

Tim Hudson(notes) (2-1, 4.08 ERA) will take the mound looking to end the season on a positive note as Atlanta looks to avoid a season-high sixth straight loss.

The right-hander allowed four runs in five innings but didn’t get a decision in a 5-4 loss to the Marlins on Tuesday.

“It was a bit of a struggle for me out there,” Hudson said. “I was battling some location issues.”

The former ace has been erratic in six starts since being activated from the 60-day disabled list on Sept. 1 after missing 13 months due to Tommy John surgery. He’s 8-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 12 career starts against the Nationals, but hasn’t faced them since winning on July 18, 2008.

The Nationals are looking to end the season with a seven-game winning streak while matching their victory total from last season.

Maxwell has played a key role during Washington’s late surge, hitting .412 with two homers and six RBIs. His other homer was a walk-off grand slam off New York closer Francisco Rodriguez(notes) in Wednesday’s 7-4 win.

He’s batting .311 in 26 games since being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on Sept. 1.

“I’m just trying to do my job,” Maxwell said. “Not do too much. Just put the ball in play. It felt good. This game is all about confidence. There’s nothing to think about when you’re in the box. Just hit the ball.”

Nats rookie J.D. Martin(notes) (5-4, 4.69) will make his first career start against the Braves.

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 4.85 ERA in his last five games. However, he struggled while not getting a decision in a 4-3 win over the Mets on Tuesday, as he allowed three runs in six innings.

“I really didn’t have anything going today,” Martin told the team’s official Web site. “I was struggling with every pitch.”

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Starting Pitchers

J. Martín TB vs. T. Hudson SF
5-4 Record 2-1
4.44 ERA 3.61
37 K 30
24 BB 13
1.42 WHIP 1.46

Scoreboard

Sunday, Oct 4