Braves-Nationals Preview

The Associated Press

After rallying to win the series opener in Washington, the red-hot Atlanta Braves would appear to have a challenge in their next game, a matchup with Stephen Strasburg.

The Braves, though, have had more success than any other team against the Nationals staff ace, who will seek to bounce back from a poor outing Saturday.

With a 4-0 lead after six innings, Washington seemed poised to win the first meeting between two of the NL's best clubs, but Atlanta charged back for a 6-4 victory in 10 innings Friday.

After scoring the tying run on a Ryan Zimmerman ninth-inning error, Ramiro Pena hit the go-ahead home run in the extra frame and extended his team's win streak to seven games.

"We know the game's not over until we're back in the clubhouse," said Chris Johnson, whose seventh-inning homer started Atlanta's rally. "I think there's a deep part of everybody that thinks we are going to come back every time it happens, so it's a good feeling."

The loss ended a 6-0 start at home for Washington (7-3).

"We definitely need to learn from our mistakes,'' Zimmerman said. "It's the same thing that kind of got us last year, and why we didn't maybe move on (in the playoffs), because we couldn't close games out both pitching and defense-wise."

Atlanta (9-1) is off to its best start since winning 13 of 14 to open the 1994 season and will attempt to keep it going with a matchup against Strasburg (1-1, 4.38 ERA). The right-hander has suffered more losses to the Braves than any other team, going 3-3 with a 4.17 ERA, but he was stellar in his most recent start against the NL East rival.

Strasburg gave up one run over six innings and struck out 10 in a 4-1 victory in the nation's capital on Aug. 21, but he was hardly at his best Sunday in Cincinnati. He was charged with six runs, nine hits and four walks over 5 1-3 innings in a 6-3 defeat.

"It's just one of those things where it didn't go his way," catcher Kurt Suzuki told the team's website. "He gave up some two-strike hits where it was a good job of hitting.

"He's going to pitch how Stras pitches. He's not going to change a thing, and I want him to stay that way."

The Braves will send out Tim Hudson (1-0, 3.27) to seek his 199th career win. The right-hander gave up one run over 6 2-3 innings and struck out seven in Sunday's 5-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Hudson is 14-5 with a 2.65 ERA in 26 starts against the Nationals' franchise but was 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in his three matchups last season.

Bryce Harper, batting .400 with five homers and 10 RBIs, is 3 for 9 with no homers in his career against Hudson. Jayson Werth is 14 for 36 (.389) with three homers versus the veteran.

Atlanta's Jason Heyward, batting .097 through his first 10 games, might have a chance to break out of his slump Saturday. He's 7 for 12 all-time against Strasburg, and Dan Uggla (8 for 17) has also been successful.

They'll try to help the Braves win eight in a row for the first time since a nine-game win streak May 26-June 3, 2010.

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