Nationals' bullpen wastes superb effort by Hernandez
ATLANTA (Ticker) --
does not even have to swing a bat to win a game for the
Jones drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 10th inning after scoring the tying run on
's sacrifice fly in the ninth as the Braves ruined a masterful performance by
and posted a 3-2 victory over the
for the major league lead with 32 homers, Jones helped keep Atlanta in the National League East Division race during the absence of
. He has continued his pace since
' return, hitting safely in 29 of his last 36 games, with 16 homers and 37 RBI during the stretch.
ripped a two-out triple in the fourth inning but was stranded when
grounded out. In the ninth,
led off with a double against All-Star closer
and moved to third on
' single before LaRoche lifted a fly ball to right field, tying the game at 2-2.
(0-1) started the 10th and was greeted with a leadoff single by rookie
. After a sacrifice and an intentional walk, Stanton induced a popout by
for the second out.
came on and hit
with a pitch, setting the stage for
. But the All-Star did not take the bat off his shoulder, taking four straight balls to force in the winning run.
"He's a good pitcher when he has control of his sinker,"
said. "I was looking for a certain pitch. He didn't throw anything and walked me. After the guy throws you a 2-0 sinker, you have to be patient."
"When it's 3-0, you throw the ball down the middle of the plate," Washington manager
said. "You think he's going to swing at a 3-0 (pitch)? Where are you going when it's 3-0?"
knew his namesake would not swing at the 3-0 offering, recalling the instance when
drew a bases-loaded walk to win Game Six of the 1999 NL Championship Series.
"I hope I see it a lot more,"
said. "When the crowd is that loud and you've got to throw a strike, it's a tough situation for a pitcher to be in."
(3-2) picked up the win after tossing a perfect top of the 10th.
Washington's bullpen implosion wasted a stellar effort by Hernandez, who has not defeated Atlanta since August 18, 2000 - going 0-10 in 12 outings. One start after threatening to undergo season-ending knee surgery, the All-Star righthander allowed one run, five hits and one walk with five strikeouts in eight innings.
"(The knee) was better," said Hernandez, who retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced. "It didn't hurt today. It was pretty good. I felt good. Every pitch was working today."
"Livan gave us a tremendous eight innings," Robinson said. "We couldn't close the door."
Hernandez, who has lost two straight decisions after winning 11 in a row, carried a two-hitter into the seventh inning before serving up a two-out solo homer by LaRoche that brought Atlanta within 2-1.
"I think everybody feels if we stay within a run or two, we're going to get guys on base and get a chance to win," LaRoche said.
, who has won seven consecutive decisions, surrendered two runs, eight hits and two walks in eight innings. The All-Star, who struck out four, allowed more than one run for just the second time in seven outings.
had RBI singles for the Nationals, who have lost 11 of their last 14 games.
"We've just got to find a way to score runs," Wilkerson said. "It's frustrating."
With the win, Atlanta moved one game ahead of Washington in the NL East, regaining sole possession of first place for the first time since June 4.