Nationals 4, Braves 3

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ATLANTA (AP)—New Braves closer Dan Kolb gave up three runs in the ninth inning, ruining a strong outing by Tim Hudson and helping the Washington Nationals rally for a 4-3 victory over the Braves on Tuesday night.

Brian Schneider hit a two-out, two-run double off Kolb, acquired from Milwaukee during the offseason to replace John Smoltz as closer. The go-ahead run had barely crossed the plate when heavy rain swept across Turner Field.

Umpires allowed Washington closer Chad Cordero to throw two pitches in the bottom half, but it was raining so hard that play was suspended for 31 minutes.

When the storm passed, Cordero returned to the mound and finished off his first save. Luis Ayala (1-0) got the win with a scoreless eighth.

Hudson allowed only six hits in eight innings, turning the ball over to Kolb with a 3-1 lead. He couldn’t hold it.

Kolb (0-1) walked two and gave up a single that loaded the bases with no outs. Ryan Church grounded into a force at home, Christian Guzman hit a sacrifice fly and the crowd rose to its feet, sensing the right-hander would escape the jam.

Instead, Schneider brought both runners home with a double to the gap in right-center.

Rookie Pete Orr had three hits, and Chipper Jones put the Braves ahead with two-run double in the sixth.

Hudson got knocked around in an exhibition game at Turner Field, but this was the first chance for Atlanta fans to see the real deal. He limited the Nationals to Jose Vidro’s solo homer in the fourth, striking out six and walking no one.

Atlanta scored in the fourth off Esteban Loaiza when Orr singled, went to third on Jones’ single and came home on Andruw Jones’ sacrifice fly.

Orr, starting in place of injured second baseman Marcus Giles, was right in the middle of a go-ahead rally in the sixth. Rafael Furcal had a one-out single and Orr followed with a hit to center. Both runners came home on Chipper Jones’ towering double to left-center.

Orr had another single in the eighth for the first three-hit game of his young career.

Loaiza went seven innings, allowed all three Atlanta runs on seven hits.


Jamey Carroll started in place of 3B Vinny Castilla, who didn’t play because of a sore right shoulder. … 1B Julio Franco started for the Braves, even though a right-hander started for the Nationals. He had gone five games without a start, and manager Bobby Cox didn’t want the 46-year-old player to get rusty on the bench. As part of a first-base platoon, Adam LaRoche usually starts against right-handers. … Loaiza was denied his first NL win since he pitched for Pittsburgh in 1998. … The Nationals/Expos defeated the Braves for only the fifth time in the last 20 games between the teams.

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