With their fast start a distant memory, the Braves hope a return home for a four-game series with their NL East rival can get them untracked.
Atlanta attempts to avoid its longest slide in 11 months and set a franchise record for its longest winning streak over the Nationals on Monday night.
The Braves (15-9) outscored Washington 18-5 while winning all three games in the nation's capital from April 12-14, including a 3-1 win over Strasburg in the middle game of that set. That's part of their seven-game winning streak, matching the longest by either team in the all-time series.
Atlanta did it May 20-July 5, 1997, when the Nationals were the Montreal Expos.
The Braves' latest sweep of Washington (13-12) was part of a 12-1 start to the season, but they've cooled off significantly by losing eight of 11. They concluded a 3-7 road trip by falling 8-3 at Detroit on Sunday, their fourth consecutive loss.
Atlanta, which hasn't dropped five in a row since an eight-game skid May 21-28, is playing the next seven at home, where it's 6-2.
"It was a tough road trip. You can tell it wore on us," said second baseman Dan Uggla , 4 for 26 with one homer and four RBIs during the trip.
Strasburg (1-4, 3.16 ERA) will try to add to the Braves' recent woes by ending his own.
The right-hander has lost a career-high four straight starts behind a 4.07 ERA. However, he's been backed by just six total runs of support.
He can't be blamed for April 13 loss to Atlanta after he surrendered two unearned runs with seven strikeouts in six innings.
The same can't be said about his three outings at Turner Field, where he's 1-2 with a 6.28 ERA.
Strasburg struggled early Wednesday, giving up three runs in the first inning before settling down and tossing six scoreless with seven strikeouts in a 4-2 loss to St. Louis.
Washington is trying to rebound from Sunday's 5-2 loss to Cincinnati after winning the first three games of the series.
Adam LaRoche , a member of the Braves in 2009, is hitless in his last 26 at-bats, dropping his average 65 points to .135.
"I've got one of two options here," the first baseman said. "I can either keep my head up, keep swinging or I can pack up and go home. I'm not ready to go home yet."
He's 1 for 10 versus Atlanta this year, and will be facing Julio Teheran (1-0, 5.48), who is coming off probably the best performance of his career.
The right-hander, widely considered among the best young arms in baseball, allowed one run and eight hits in seven innings of Tuesday's 10-2 win at Colorado.
Teheran didn't get a decision in his only meeting with Washington on April 12, when he was reached for four runs with three walks in six innings of a 6-4 victory.
Despite the losing streak to the Braves, the Nationals are adamant they'll prove to be better over the course of the season.
"I still don't think that they are better than us," second baseman Danny Espinosa told the team's official website following a 9-0 loss to the Braves on April 14. "It doesn't last forever. So I'm not worried about it. I'm going to be real confident the next 16 games."
|April 18, 2013||Ryan Zimmerman||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|April 16, 2013||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Flu-like symptoms|
|April 16, 2013||Denard Span||Day-to-Day||Flu-like symptoms|
|April 14, 2013||Wilson Ramos||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|March 22, 2013||Christian Garcia||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm tendon|
|April 23, 2013||Jason Heyward||Day-to-Day||Appendectomy|
|April 21, 2013||Jason Heyward||15-Day DL||Appendectomy|
|April 20, 2013||Dan Uggla||Day-to-Day||Left game - left calf strain|
|April 20, 2013||Blake DeWitt||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|April 16, 2013||Luis Avilan||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring injury|
|April 07, 2013||Cristhian Martinez||15-Day DL||Right shoulder strain|
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves , who began the night with the most home runs in the majors, showed they can win playing small ball.
Now Washington's Stephen Strasburg must show his right arm is completely healthy.
Andrelton Simmons hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, then made an eye-popping play to start the ninth as Atlanta beat the Nationals 3-2 on Monday night and ended their four-game losing streak.
"We battled and did the little things right," said Simmons, the second-year shortstop. "We got the bunt down. We got the sacrifice fly to get the run in."
Washington manager Davey Johnson said Strasburg, who was pulled after six innings, has "a little tightness" in his right forearm.
Johnson said Strasburg was seen by a doctor after the game.
"That was a tough one," said Johnson of the loss. "But the main thing I was a little concerned about was Strasburg."
Strasburg, who had lost a career-worst four-straight starts leading up to the game, said he'll be able to make his next scheduled start. He is 1-4 with a 3.13 ERA.
Strasburg appeared to struggle to get comfortable on the mound. Johnson also noticed, saying Strasburg "doesn't look right to me."
"He was shaking his elbow more frequently," Johnson said, adding Strasburg didn't complain "but he was irritable."
"I was really concerned," Johnson said. "Any other time, I might have let him continue. Hopefully, it's no more than a tired arm or something."
Strasburg gave up six hits, four walks and two runs in six innings, striking out eight.
Strasburg insisted he "felt good" but struggled with his control.
"I couldn't throw strikes early on," Strasburg said. "I was able to kind of battle through it and keep it close."
Atlanta beat the Nationals for the eighth straight time dating to last season. The Braves swept three games at Washington earlier this month.
Ian Desmond off the ninth with a slow grounder that Simmons charged. Simmons slipped as he fielded the ball and fell on his backside, but somehow fired a strike from the seat of his pants that first baseman Freddie Freeman caught by making a long stretch.
"That's the first time I've ever seen two guys do a split on the same play at the same time," Braves closer Craig Kimbrel said.
Desmond was called out on a close play, and disagreed with the decision. Johnson came out to argue with umpire Tim Timmons.
Simmons was able to laugh about his awkward but successful throw.
"I just lost my footing," Simmons said. "It was a little muddy. Fortunately, we've got Freddie helping out there. ... Sometimes you've got to improvise to get it done."
The Braves began the night with 36 homers, one ahead of the Yankees for the lead. Against the Nationals, Atlanta's only extra-base hit was a double by starting pitcher Julio Teheran .
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Teheran, who allowed 10 hits and two runs in 5 1-3 innings, showed his growth by escaping jams as the Nationals left six runners on base.
"We're watching him grow up in front of our eyes," Gonzalez said.
Gerald Laird led off the Braves' seventh with a walk from Tyler Clippard (1-1). Laird moved up on pinch-hitter Tyler Pastonicky's sacrifice bunt and was held at third on Jordan Schafer 's single.
Simmons' fly ball to right allowed Laird to slide safely headfirst across the plate.
Jordan Walden (1-0) struck out three in 1 2-3 hitless innings.
Eric O'Flaherty struck out two in a perfect eighth and Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his ninth save.
Strasburg's first pitch of the game sailed to the backstop. He walked Schafer, who stole second and scored on Justin Upton 's soft single.
Freeman followed Upton's hit with a single to left field, but took a wide turn around first and was thrown out. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez argued the call with Timmons at first base, and replays indicated Freeman's hand was on the bag before he was tagged.
Former Braves star Chipper Jones visited his former teammate and hunting buddy Adam LaRoche , now the Nationals' first baseman, before the game. Jones, who has said he has possible interest in becoming a hitting coach, watched video with LaRoche of the slumping left-handed hitter's swing.
The video review with Jones must have helped as LaRoche led off the second inning with a single to snap his 0-for-26 drought. LaRoche's hit started a string of four straight singles, including run-scoring hits by Chad Tracy and Kurt Suzuki , to give Washington a 2-1 lead.
Freeman walked to lead off the fourth, and singles by Dan Uggla and Laird made it 2-all.
Washington's Jayson Werth crumpled to the ground after fouling a ball off his left foot in the eighth. He completed his at-bat - a strikeout - and was replaced in right field by Roger Bernadina in the bottom of the inning.
NOTES: Braves RF Jason Heyward sat at his clubhouse locker but clearly was far from full strength one week after having his appendix removed. Heyward said he hopes to return no later than the May 24-26 series at the Mets. He said his doctor's instructions include "No spinning, no twisting, no lifting the dog." ... Washington C Wilson Ramos was activated from the 15-day DL but did not play as Johnson said he wanted to be careful not to push the strained left hamstring. C Jhonatan Solano was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. ... Schafer stole two bases. ... The series continues Tuesday night when Braves RHP Tim Hudson goes for his 200th career win, facing Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez .