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Braves 9, Nationals 0

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WASHINGTON -- Atlanta had three big innings and starting pitcher Paul Maholm improved to 3-0 as the Braves beat the Washington Nationals 9-0 on Sunday to complete a three-game divisional sweep before a subdued crowd of 39,389.

Atlanta first baseman Chris Johnson (four hits) was involved in two rallies and Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons hit homers in the third as the Braves (11-1) won their ninth game in a row. Leadoff hitter B.J. Upton had three hits, including two doubles, and scored twice.

The Nationals (7-5) were outscored 18-5 in the series and had won all six home games before Atlanta came to town Friday. Washington starter Gio Gonzalez (1-1) gave up a double on the first pitch of the game to B.J. Upton and was hit hard even when Atlanta made outs.

The Nationals head to Florida with a record of 1-5 this season against the Reds and Braves.

Maholm allowed just four hits and was replaced with two outs in the eighth after throwing 113 pitches, 75 for strikes. Luis Avilan took over for Maholm, who was 0-3 with an ERA of 5.55 in his first four previous games at Nationals Park.

Maholm entered Sunday with an ERA of 5.52 in 10 games overall against the Nats.

Atlanta's Cory Gearrin, on his 27th birthday, came on to pitch in the ninth.

The Braves built a 7-0 lead in the fourth as Justin Upton led off with his seventh homer of the year and Simmons added his first round-tripper -- a three-run shot that landed in the Atlanta bullpen behind the left-field fence.

Ramiro Pena then reached on a throwing error by Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman -- the third game in a row the All-Star has been charged with a throwing error after offseason shoulder surgery. But Maholm hit into a double play (started by Zimmerman) to end the inning.

The Nationals pinch-hit in the fifth for Gonzalez, who entered the game with a 0.82 ERA. But on Sunday, he allowed seven earned runs with three walks and three strikeouts while throwing 98 pitches before Zach Duke relieved him.

Atlanta had taken a 3-0 lead in the first on an RBI double by rookie cleanup hitter Evan Gattis, who homered on Saturday, and two batters later Chris Johnson hit a two-run single to center. Johnson also had a single in third in front of the Simmons homer and added his third hit in the fifth.

Maholm, the Braves' starter, allowed no runs and two hits in the first five innings. He also singled in the sixth for his first hit of the season and scored on a double by Jason Heyward.

Gattis hit a sacrifice fly to make it 9-0 in the top of the sixth.

Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa (hitting .175) was hit on the right hand on a pitch by Maholm in the second. He was checked by head trainer Lee Kuntz and stayed in the game, but was replaced in the field by Steve Lombardozzi in the top of the fifth. Lombardozzi singled in the bottom of the fifth for his second hit in five at-bats this season. Espinosa left the game with a sore right hand, according to the Nationals.

NOTES: Atlanta began the day with the best record in the majors at 10-1 and had won eight in a row. ... The Nationals placed Wilson Ramos on the 15-day disabled list and recalled catcher Jhonaton Solano from triple-A Syracuse. Ramos has a left hamstring strain suffered late in Saturday's game. Ramos was hitting .300 with two homers in six games. Solano hit .314 in 12 games with the Nationals last season. ... Atlanta has won its first four series of the year and is off to its best start since going 13-1 in 1994. ... Kurt Suzuki, who had been splitting time with Ramos, got the start at catcher for the Nationals and singled in his first at-bat.
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