WASHINGTON (AP) — With the sound of fireworks going off in the distance, the Atlanta Braves lit up Stephen Strasburg.
The pyrotechnics were part of Washington’s annual Cherry Blossom festival. The Braves beating the Nationals in the spring is also becoming a tradition around here.
Julio Teheran allowed two runs in seven solid innings and had two hits, and Atlanta knocked out Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning, as the Braves beat Washington 6-2 on Saturday night.
Atlanta is 7-0 against the Nats the last two Aprils.
“That’s our goal, to win every series. We’ve put ourselves in a position to sweep now,” Dan Uggla said.
Uggla had a two-run single for the Braves and Freddie Freeman reached base five times with two hits and three walks.
“I don’t even want to talk about last year,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “When you pitch and catch the baseball it’s a really good combination to win baseball games.”
Teheran (1-1) limited Washington to three hits, including a two-run home run by Adam LaRoche. The Braves right-hander was aided by a spectacular throw by B.J. Upton, who caught a liner to medium center by Bryce Harper and threw out Jose Lobaton at the plate for an inning-ending double play in the fifth.
Strasburg (0-1) allowed eight hits, three walks and three earned runs in 4 1-3 innings.
Teheran walked four and hit a batter, but he compensated with six timely strikeouts and two solid singles to right field, the first of which drove in the tying run with two out in the bottom of the fourth inning and contributed to the early exit for Strasburg.
“He’s resilient,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t worry about him anymore. When he gets his back up against a wall he seems to elevate his game a little bit.”
Atlanta always seems to elevate its game against Strasburg, who has a 3-5 record against the Braves. No other team has handed the right-hander more than three losses in his career.
It was the second shaky outing of the year for the Nationals right-hander. Strasburg allowed a pair of home runs in a no-decision in Washington’s 9-7 opening day victory over the Mets.
Against the Braves, Strasburg had a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning, but third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s two-out, two-run throwing error paved the way for two unearned runs.
“I don’t really feel like I got out of my game plan or anything,” Strasburg said of Zimmerman’s error. “I really feel like I was going out there, giving it everything I had and battling. I just left some pitches up.”
Zimmerman left the game with a sore shoulder. It’s the same shoulder he had surgically repaired in October 2012.
In the next inning, Strasburg was sent to the dugout after allowing a walk and four straight singles. The hits were supplied by Chris Johnson, Justin Upton, Uggla, and Ryan Doumit. Andrelton Simmons brought home the final run with a sacrifice fly off reliever Aaron Barrett.
It was a rough night for the Nationals’ other former No. 1 overall draft pick as Bryce Harper went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, watching his average drop to .143 and his frustration rise.
“I’m pretty lost right now actually,” Harper said. “I’m trying everything right now so we’ll see where I’m at tomorrow, give pops a call and see what he says.”
Notes: In the final game of the series on Sunday, Braves lefty Alex Wood (1-0, 1.29 ERA) will oppose Nationals right-hander Taylor Jordan, who gets his first start of the season. . Nationals P Doug Fister, who is out with a lat strain, may get some throwing in on Sunday for the first time since he was placed on the 15-day disabled list on March 29. “Through exercise he feels pretty good,” manager Matt Williams said. “The test is going to be throwing and extending in a controlled environment.” … Illness is going around both clubhouses. Braves C Evan Gattis, who homered on Friday, was out with flu-like symptoms, but was available to pinch hit. Nationals P Gio Gonzalez is battling illness. His next start is set for Tuesday against the Marlins. .. Wood is the first left-hander the Nationals will face this year.