Harris drives in 5 as Nationals rout Braves
ATLANTA (AP)—Willie Harris hated to leave Atlanta. Again.
Harris, the Georgia native who was a part-time starter for the Braves in 2007, capped a series to remember by leading the Washington Nationals to a 15-6 win over Atlanta on Sunday.
Harris drove in five runs and reached base five times, Jesus Flores had five hits and Austin Kearns hit a two-run homer. Harris had two hits, including a two-run homer, and three walks. He had a two-run single in the second, a bases-loaded walk in the third and a two-run homer in the fourth.
“I just feel fortunate to get some balls to fall for me,” said Harris, who had seven hits, seven RBIs and scored five runs in the series. “I was looking forward to this series. I have a lot of friends over there. I really want to beat my old team.”
He finished one RBI shy of his career-high six set with the Braves on July 21, 2007, when he had six hits against St. Louis. The Cairo, Ga., native hit .270 in 117 games, including 78 starts, for Atlanta last season but was not re-signed.
The Nationals are 16-17 when Harris starts.
Washington outscored Atlanta 23-8 to win the last two games of the series. The 15 runs is franchise record since the team moved to Washington in 2005.
The series loss was a crushing disappointment for the fourth-place Braves, who hoped for a strong start after the All-Star break.
The Braves didn’t play as if capable of making a second-half move in the NL East. They matched their season high with four errors and issued eight walks.
“It was pretty embarrassing,” Teixeira said. “We didn’t do anything it took to win.
“It’s a little tough to swallow when we’re in kind of a must-win situation. … We didn’t do anything right.”
Washington set season highs for runs and hits (17) to cap a successful start to its nine-game road trip.
Nationals manager Manny Acta said he hopes the return of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on Monday will help the team continue its surge.
“I’m sure our offense is better than what we showed in the first half,” Acta said. “And now with Zimmerman coming back …”
“We just didn’t get any pitching today,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox. “We didn’t hold anybody at all. … It was a bad day. We can play better than that, that’s for sure.”
Reyes, who walked four batters, suffered his fifth straight loss.
“I’ve played with Reyes and I’ve seen him pitch,” Harris said. “Sometimes he has trouble finding the strike zone. We made some adjustments. We were patient.”
Washington put the game away early, scoring 12 runs while loading the bases in the second, third and fourth innings. The Nationals loaded the bases again in the ninth against Royce Ring, when Felipe Lopez, who had three hits, drove in his third run with a sacrifice fly.
Perez pitched five innings, giving up nine hits and five runs, in his first win since May 28.
Kearns added his two-run homer in the fourth.
Flores drove in two runs with his career-high five hits.
The Braves’ frustrations were evident in the third inning, when Carlyle’s bases-loaded walk to Harris forced in a run for a 6-1 lead.
Carlyle pulled his jersey over his mouth in an apparent attempt to hide his complaints about home plate umpire Chris Guccione’s tight strike zone. Guccione immediately stepped in front of the plate to warn Carlyle, and then he turned to caution Cox not to come out of the dugout.
Cox still bounced up the dugout steps and was quickly ejected by Guccione. Cox continued to follow Guccione for a long tirade before finally returning to the dugout. Cox continued to yell from the dugout before the umpire again stepped away from home plate and pointed the way for Cox to leave.<^Notes: The ejection was the 141st of Cox’s career and his sixth of the season. … Prado’s homer was his first of the season and the first of his career as a pinch-hitter. … The Nationals, who placed 1B Dmitri Young on the 15-day disabled list after Saturday night’s game, also have Aaron Boone on the disabled list. Paul Lo Duca, primarily a catcher, started at first base in each game of the series, and manager Manny Acta said infielder Ronnie Belliard, who started at third base, is the top backup at first.