Braves 5, Nationals 3, 1st game

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ATLANTA (AP)—Andruw Jones hit his major league-leading 43rd homer and drove in five runs, leading the Atlanta Braves past the Washington Nationals 5-3 Wednesday in the first game of a doubleheader.

Jones finished one short of his career high for RBIs. He drove in six runs in a 1999 game at Colorado. For good measure, the Gold Glove center fielder also made two diving catches, both on liners hit by Preston Wilson.

Horacio Ramirez (11-8) bounced back from a shaky start to go seven innings. Kyle Farnsworth picked up his second save with the Braves and eighth overall.

Marlon Byrd had three hits, including a homer, and scored three runs for the Nationals.

Jones hit a three-run homer in the first, the drive barely clearing the left-field wall to give the Braves a 3-1 lead. He came into the game with two more homers than anyone else in the majors.

Jones knocked out Washington starter Esteban Loaiza and broke a 3-all tie with a two-run single in the fifth, giving the Atlanta player an NL-leading 108 RBIs and closing in on his career best—116 two years ago.

The Nationals went ahead in the first on Jose Guillen’s run-scoring single, and had runners at first and third with one out. But Ramirez avoided the big inning, getting Wilson on a popup and Vinny Castilla with a grounder back to the mound.

Ramirez surrendered eight hits and walked two before he was replaced by Chris Reitsma, who managed only one out before giving way to Farnsworth with two runners on in the eighth.

On Farnsworth’s first pitch, the Braves picked off Guillen at first. Catcher Brian McCann threw to first baseman Adam LaRoche sneaking in behind the runner. Guillen complained, and TV replays appeared to show him getting his right hand to the bag before LaRoche’s swipe tag.

Castilla grounded out to end the threat, with Farnsworth pounding his glove as he walked off the mound. He finished up with a scoreless ninth.

Nick Johnson pulled the Nationals to 3-2 in the third, driving in a run with an infield grounder. They tied it in the fifth on Byrd’s third hit of a day, a drive into the center-field seats for his first homer.

Byrd, who played at nearby Georgia Tech, also singled and doubled, coming around to score each time.

Loaiza (9-10) lasted only 4 1-3 innings. He gave up seven hits and walked four.


In the nightcap, Washington’s Livan Hernandez faced Atlanta’s John Thomson, who struggled in his first three starts after coming off the DL. He gave up 16 earned runs in 13 1-3 innings. … Braves OF Ryan Langerhans, leading off for the first time in the majors, doubled twice.