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Braves roll on with 12th straight win

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- These days, everything seems to be going right for the Atlanta Braves. Even when a player leaves a game with an injury, his replacement comes through with the eventual winning hit.

Defensive replacement Evan Gattis had a two-run single in the fifth inning as the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 2-1 on Tuesday night, extending its winning streak to 12 in a game in which benches cleared after Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch.

"Boys will be boys," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the no-contact bench clearing.

Atlanta continues to get -- or make -- most of the breaks as Gattis entered the game as a defensive replacement in left field in the bottom of the first and came up with the winning hit in the leadoff spot for injured right fielder Jayson Heyward. Justin Upton was in the starting lineup in left but moved over to right as Gattis played left.

"I got a pitch to handle. I just wanted to stay aggressive and not let those guys out there," said Gattis, who drove in B.J. Upton and Andrelton Simmons.

Heyward had to leave the game after he batted leadoff in the top of the first.

"The back of my head started hurting. We will see what happens tomorrow," Heyward said.

Gonzalez joked that Heyward and Gattis formed the biggest combination of leadoff hitters in the game.

"Awesome," Heyward said of Gattis. "I am happy for him. I am happy for us."

Atlanta (69-45) is now 5-0 at Nationals Park this year and is a season-high 141/2 games ahead of Washington (54-59) in the National League East.

"We have a chance to sweep them," Atlanta's Freddie Freeman, after his team won the first two games of the series.

Braves catcher Brian McCann said, "Our offense is clicking. That is why we have won 12 in a row."

The season is slipping away for Washington, the defending division champion.

"I never look at too much how much you are up or how much you are behind. We just need to play better; it's that simple," Washington manager Davey Johnson said.

Atlanta pitcher Luis Avilan loaded the bases in the seventh -- thanks in part to a throwing error by third baseman Chris Johnson -- and got Adam LaRoche to ground out to first to end the inning.

Jordan Walden fanned three in the eighth for the Braves and Craig Kimbrel came on in the ninth for his 35th save. Harper was one of three strikeout victims, for the final out.

Washington starter Gio Gonzalez (7-5) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. Atlanta counterpart Julio Teheran (9-5) gave up one run and four hits in six innings.

Both benches and bullpens emptied in the bottom of the fifth when Harper, who homered in his previous at-bat, was hit on the right leg by a pitch from Teheran with one out.

"It definitely wasn't on purpose," Gonzalez said. "He was trying to throw inside."

Harper immediately pointed and yelled at Teheran as he walked toward first base. Players from both dugouts came onto the field, but there was no physical contact between any of the Braves or Nationals.

Harper continued to holler at Teheran when he got to first base. After home plate umpire and crew chief Joe West kept himself between the two, Harper walked to first. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth both popped out to end the threat.

"Joe West did a good jump," Gonzalez said.

"I didn't want to hit him," said Teheran, who said he was surprised at the reaction from Harper.

Harper had given Washington a 1-0 lead in the third with a solo homer to center. It was the 17th homer of the season for Harper and ended a 0-for-11 hitless streak. Teheran said he did not even watch Harper circle the bases on his homer.

Heyward left the game after he batted in the top of the first. He was examined by head athletic trainer Jeff Porter after he fouled off a pitch and then popped out. Heyward was listed day to day with a neck strain.

NOTES: The Nationals called up RHP Tanner Roark from Triple-A Syracuse and sent LHP Xavier Cedeno down to the Chiefs. Roark's first game with the Nationals will mark his big league debut. He was 9-3 with a 3.15 ERA in 33 games, including 11 starts, for Syracuse. Washington also moved LHP Ross Detwiler from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. ... Atlanta's Chris Johnson was hitting .342 through Monday, the best mark in the National League. ... Zimmerman batted second in the order for the first time in his major league career as a starter.
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