Braves sweep Nats, win streak at 13

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David Driver, The Sports Xchange
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WASHINGTON -- The Atlanta Braves are not only playing well. They are talking a good game to go along with it.

Jason Heyward singled home the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning as the Braves beat the Washington Nationals 6-3 Wednesday, extending their winning streak to 13 games.

Atlanta swept the three-game series from the defending National League East champs.

"We came in here and let them know we are here to stay," said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, making sure not to kick the Nationals while they are down -- way down.

The decisive hit came off rookie lefty reliever Ian Krol, who was brought in to face left-handed-hitting Heyward. Justin Upton then ripped a two-run double, his third hit of the game, down the left field line off Krol to give the Braves a 6-3 lead.

B.J. Upton had four hits for Atlanta, which is 6-0 at Nationals Park this season.

"B.J. is swinging the bat well, which is huge for us," said Kris Medlen, the winning pitcher. "This is what we have been looking for."

The National League East-leading Braves (70-45) are a season-high 15 1/2 games ahead of the fading Nationals (54-60), who are a season-low six games under .500 and have lost four in a row. The Braves had 15 hits while improving to 10-3 this year against Washington.

"Just keep battling," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "Just one game can turn you around and get some momentum going. It can happen. Things can change quick."

The Braves get a day off to enjoy their winning ways before opening a home series against the Miami Marlins on Friday. Atlanta completed a 6-0 trip through Philadelphia and Washington.

"We had a helluva road trip," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It ended a nice road trip. We need to recharge our batteries a little bit."

The Nationals had just five hits and were hitless in four at-bats with runners in scoring position.

"You know what they are capable of," Medlen said of the Nationals.

Washington tied the game at 3 in the seventh when Ian Desmond drove in a run on a fielder's choice groundout. Atlanta took a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh on a solo homer by Justin Upton, his 21st.

Medlen (9-10) gave up three runs in seven innings before he turned the game over to the bullpen. He gave a homer to Werth.

"Other than one pitch, he was as good as we have seen," Gonzalez said.

David Carpenter pitched the eighth for Atlanta, and Craig Kimbrel came on in the ninth for his 36th save. The first two batters reached base against Kimbrel, and Washington loaded the bases before Wilson Ramos lined out to right to end the game.

Washington has not scored against the Atlanta bullpen this season.

Ryan Mattheus (0-1) was tagged with the loss. He allowed a bases-empty, two-out double to Andrelton Simmons and a walk to Joey Terdoslavich to begin Atlanta's three-run rally in the eighth.

Werth hit a two-run homer in the fourth to tie the game 2-2. It was the first hit off Medlen.

Medlen gave his team a 2-0 lead in the fourth on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center to score Dan Uggla.

Atlanta jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first as Freeman rapped an RBI single up the middle to score Heyward, who led off the game with a double.

Medlen retired the first 11 batters before Bryce Harper drew a walk with two outs in the fourth, and then Werth hit his 16th homer.

Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann allowed two runs and seven hits in four innings before he was replaced by reliever Tanner Roark, who pitched two scoreless innings in his big-league debut.

"I thought we had a good approach versus Zimmermann," Gonzalez said.

Asked about the division race, Zimmermann said, "No. I don't think it's over. ... Just take care of our business, and at the end of the season we'll see what happens."

NOTES: Heyward was in the starting lineup after he left Tuesday's game in the first inning with a neck strain. ... Both teams have off Thursday. Washington RHP Dan Haren (6-11, 5.14) will face Philadelphia Phillies LHP John Lannan (3-4, 4.10) on Friday. Atlanta RHP Brandon Beachy (0-0, 9.00) will battle Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (3-3, 2.68) on Friday. ... Justin Upton extended his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Washington RHP Tyler Clippard has 435 strikeouts out of the bullpen since June 25, 2009, when he made his big-league debut. That is the most in the majors by a reliever in that span.