Nationals win in 15, but Strasburg ejected

Stan Awtrey, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- The Washington Nationals found a way to beat the Atlanta Braves in 15 innings on Saturday night, but much of the attention was focused on what happened to ace Stephen Strasburg much earlier in the evening.
Adam LaRoche, who entered the game as a defensive replacement, hit a solo homer to give the Nationals an 8-7 win. Strasburg was long gone by then, having been ejected in the second inning by home plate umpire Marvin Hudson for intentionally throwing at two Atlanta batters.
"There's been a lot of stuff building up," said Randy Knorr, who became the manager when manager Davey Johnson was ejected along with Strasburg. "I know they hit (Bryce) Harper quite a bit. I don't know if somebody said something."
With tensions already high after Harper had been hit by a pitch twice on Friday, Strasburg plunked Justin Upton on the rear end in the first inning. Upton, who had won the game with a 10h-inning homer on Friday, laughed as he walked to first base. Strasburg's pitch drew a warning from Hudson.
"If it happens, it's no big deal," Braves right fielder Jason Heyward said. "We're just playing baseball and competing."
Strasburg was ejected in the second inning after throwing three consecutive wild pitches, the last two well behind the back of Andrelton Simmons. Hudson ejected Strasburg and Johnson. Strasburg showed no emotion as he walked off the field.
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez wasn't sure if Strasburg was trying to hit Simmons or simply having physical problems.
"I don't know if something was going on there," Gonzalez said. "The umpire's got to do what they got to do. From my point of view, it's over. I don't know if something is wrong with him physically. He didn't look right."
Braves announcer and Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton was convinced that Strasburg's actions were intentional. "If he wasn't throwing at him, I'm convinced the Statue of Liberty was made by a second grade art class," Sutton said.
That ejection set the tone for an unusual night on which each team used nine pitchers and throw a combined 518 pitches in a game that lasted five hours and 29 minutes. It was ended by LaRoche, a two-time former Brave who fouled off three pitches before he yanked a 1-and-2 curveball from Kris Medlen (10-11) into the right field stands.
"Medlen made one bad pitch and I'm not even sure it was a bad pitch," Gonzalez said.
The winning pitcher was Craig Stammen (6-5), who struck out five in three scoreless innings. Dan Haren pitched a scoreless inning to close the game and pick up a save.
Knorr said Stammen wanted to finish the game, but he opted to use Haren, who volunteered to throw if needed once Strasburg was tossed out.
Heyward sent the game to extra innings with a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning off closer Rafael Soriano. It was Heyward's 13th homer and his second of the game.
The Braves also got a two-run homer from Brian McCann, his 18th home run of the season, and a solo homer from Freddie Freeman, his 15th, as they erased a 6-2 lead. Ryan Zimmerman hit his 14th home run for Washington.
The Nationals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning with Wilson Ramos driving home two runs with a two-out base-loaded single.
The Braves got one back in the bottom of the first. Heyward hit a 3-and-2 pitch into the stands in right-center field for his 12th homer, his second as a leadoff hitter.
Washington stretched its lead to 4-1 with two runs in the second. Jayson Werth slapped a two-out single into left to drive home two runs and chase Minor.
A two-out double by Roark put Washington ahead 5-2 in the fifth. It was the first career RBI for the rookie pitcher.
NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 10 minutes by rain. ... The Nationals place RHP Taylor Jordan on the 15-day disabled list with a strained lower back and recalled 1B/OF Tyler Moore from Triple-A Syracuse. Moore was in the starting lineup on Saturday. ... Atlanta reliever Anthony Varvaro had his first career at-bat on Saturday and struck out. ... Washington OF Scott Hairston was ejected for arguing a third-strike call in the ninth inning.

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