Nationals-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

Although the Washington Nationals continued the hot hitting that keyed their winning streak, it wasn't enough to end their ongoing struggles against the Atlanta Braves.

Now they could be without slugger Jayson Werth as they try to even the series.

Washington will try to avoid a fourth loss in five meetings this season against Atlanta on Saturday night.

After averaging 7.3 runs while hitting .290 against Miami in the final three games of a four-game winning streak, the Nationals (7-3) pounded out a season-high 14 hits in Friday's series opener in Atlanta.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning before Denard Span's RBI single gave them a one-run lead in the eighth, but the bullpen couldn't hold it in a 7-6, 10-inning loss.

The defeat may have been costly as Werth left the game with a groin injury before the bottom of the 10th. Werth, off to a 13 for 37 (.351) start with two homers, will be evaluated Saturday.

The Nationals - losers in 20 of 27 meetings with the Braves (6-4) - will try to reverse that trend against Alex Wood (1-1, 1.93 ERA), who pitched seven strong innings in a 2-1 road loss last Sunday.

The left-hander retired 13 in a row at one point but allowed Ian Desmond's go-ahead home run in the seventh inning in the Nationals' only win in that three-game home set.

Wood gave up two runs and four hits in his seven frames, but dropped to 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA in three career starts against the Nationals. He also gave up one run and five hits while striking out nine over 6 1-3 innings in a 3-2, 10-inning win in his only career home meeting Aug. 16.

"He had really good stuff," catcher Gerald Laird told the league's official website Sunday. "After that first inning, we cruised pretty much through the innings."

Desmond's homer was his only hit in eight career at-bats while facing Wood. Adam LaRoche (1 for 8), Span (0 for 6) and Zimmerman (0 for 5) also have scuffled in this matchup.

LaRoche has gone 8 for 16 in his last four games overall, while Bryce Harper is 6 for 12 with a homer in his last three. Anthony Rendon, however, went 0 for 5 in the opener to snap his 11-game hitting streak dating to last season.

With his time in the rotation likely limited as Doug Fister continues to get closer to returning from a lat strain, right-hander Taylor Jordan looks to continue his success against the Braves.

Jordan allowed one run and six hits over 6 1-3 innings but did not factor in the decision last Sunday. He also opposed Wood in his only start in Atlanta, giving up two unearned runs over six innings in the extra-inning loss last August.

"I'm impressed with the way he went about it," manager Matt Williams said Sunday. "He got into a couple of jams, but used his sinker to get out of it."

Jordan will have to cool off Justin Upton, who has gone 6 for 7 with three home runs and five RBIs in his last two games. He tied Friday's contest with a solo shot in the eighth inning before delivering the walk-off single in the 10th.

Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons could return to the lineup after missing two games due to a wrist injury.

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