WASHINGTON (AP)—Tom Glavine has made 672 starts in the majors. Twice, 19 years apart, he failed to record an out.
The second time came Sunday against the reeling Washington Nationals, when the Atlanta Braves’ 42-year-old lefty departed with a strained right hamstring and was charged with two runs. The reliever who replaced him, Jeff Bennett, walked in two other runs, then hit a batter who scored, too.
Essentially handed a 5-0 lead, the Nationals gave nearly all of that back, then escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the ninth to beat the Braves 5-4 and end a nine-game losing streak.
“That’s what it takes,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said, when asked about seeing Glavine leave.
“It’s destiny. You can always go hard in whatever you want to do. The guy above,” Acta said, and paused, pointing skyward. “He’s got the last word.”
Glavine (0-1) matched the shortest start of his 22-season, 303-win career. On May 16, 1989, pitching for Atlanta against the Chicago Cubs, he gave up hits to the first four batters and departed after spraining his left ankle while covering first base.
This time, he let the Nationals go double, bunt single, RBI infield single, walk. Then, facing the Nationals’ fifth batter, Glavine threw his 16th pitch of the afternoon and stepped off the mound.
“As soon as I landed, I felt it,” he said. “I don’t know that I would describe it as it having popped or something, but it definitely felt like it grabbed or it kind of rolled on me or something. So I knew right away it didn’t feel right.”
Glavine briefly doubled over, trying to stretch his hamstring, while manager Bobby Cox and a team trainer went out to check on the pitcher.
“I don’t recall Tommy coming out of a game for anything,” Cox said.
In the second inning, Bennett issued four walks in a row—a string that included Cristian Guzman’s first free pass of the season and two with the bases full.
“Oh, boy, was I happy in that inning,” Acta said.
Washington starter Tim Redding (2-1) and five relievers did just enough to protect that and end the Nationals’ longest losing streak since the franchise moved to the nation’s capital.
“It was an important win for us,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “We needed it to get back on track.”
Redding was charged with three runs in five-plus innings. Atlanta pulled within 5-4 in the eighth on left fielder Wily Mo Pena’s error, dropping a ball hit by Mark Kotsay. That was part of an all-around rough season debut for Pena, rushed back from a minor league rehab assignment in the hope he could spark the lineup.
Pena—on the 15-day disabled list since spring training because of a side muscle injury—hit into a bases-loaded double play and struck out three times.
Another Nationals player making his first appearance of the season was closer Chad Cordero. A day after coming off the DL, he got two outs then loaded the bases in the ninth and was replaced by Jon Rauch, who came on to face Brian McCann.
“We had the runners on,” Cox said. “The right guy up.”
The Nationals had the right guy on the mound: McCann came in 0-for-8 against Rauch.
So the 6-foot-11 righty threw one fastball, McCann swung and flied out to right, and Rauch earned his second save.
“No win’s easy,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a typical ninth inning for us, I guess you could say.”
In the sixth, Redding gave up a two-run homer to Chipper Jones, and Mark Teixeira followed with a double on Redding’s 99th and final pitch. Ray King came on to face McCann and got a groundout, then Saul Rivera allowed Jeff Francoeur’s sac fly that made it 5-3.
There were more twists and turns—Washington’s Lastings Milledge got thrown out at the plate in the seventh, Jones grounded out with two on in that inning— but Washington was able to do something it hadn’t since April 2: meet in the infield for postgame smiles and high-fives.
“We want to get this thing going,” said Milledge, who had three hits. “We want to win nine in a row. So it started today.”
Lo Duca’s right hand was so bruised he couldn’t properly grip a bat. But he said he hopes to play Tuesday, when the Nationals open a series at his previous team, the Mets. … The Braves have lost six consecutive one-run games.