Off to their best start since the 1994 season, the Atlanta Braves face a tough task this afternoon when they go up against Stephen Strasburg.
Atlanta scored all its runs last night after the sixth inning of its 6-4 triumph in 10 innings. Ramiro Pena helped spark a rally in the ninth and then delivered the knockout punch in the 10th by clubbing a two-run homer as the Braves won their seventh game in a row. It's their longest winning streak since capturing nine straight, May 26 - June 3, 2010.
"We're having fun out there," Braves infielder Chris Johnson said. "We know the game's not over until we're back in the clubhouse."
Strasburg is coming off a loss Sunday at Cincinnati, when he allowed nine hits and six runs over 5 1/3 innings. The hard-throwing right-hander has been mediocre against the Braves. He's 3-3 with a 4.17 ERA in seven games.
Tim Hudson tries to continue Atlanta's amazing early-season success today. The righty tossed 6 2/3 innings against the Cubs on Sunday in a 5-1 triumph. Hudson gave up three hits and a run, while logging seven strikeouts. Over his career, Hudson is 14-5 with a 2.65 ERA in 26 games against the Nationals, but last season was 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in three games versus the NL East rival.
The Braves haven't had this good of a start since winning 13 of their first 14 games in 1994.
Last night, Pena's pinch-hit bunt single in the ninth helped lay the foundation for a two-run inning against Washington reliever Drew Storen. Pena crushed a Craig Stammen (2-1) fastball into the right-field seats an inning later.
Eric O'Flaherty (2-0) tossed a perfect ninth and Craig Kimbrel locked it down in the 10th to notch his fifth save of the young season.
Ross Detwiler put in another strong start for Washington, but once again didn't factor into the decision despite leaving with a 4-1 lead. He struck out five and scattered four hits over seven innings, but the Nationals lost for the first time in seven home games this season.
"To have your starter do what he did and not get the win for him is very disappointing," Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard said.
The Braves won each of the last four head-to-head meetings in 2012, but the Nationals won the season series, 10-8.