Published April 14, 2013
| Sports Network
Washington, DC – Paul Maholm struck out seven over 7 2/3 innings of four-hit ball, as the red-hot Atlanta Braves completed a three- game sweep of the Washington Nationals with a 9-0 victory on Sunday at Nationals Park.
Maholm (3-0) issued just one walk in his third straight stellar outing, as the crafty left-hander has yet to allow a run over 20 1/3 innings this season.
Andrelton Simmons stroked a three-run homer, Justin Upton added a solo shot and two runs scored, and Chris Johnson collected four hits and two RBI for the Braves, who have won nine straight and are off to their best start (11-1) since opening the 1994 season 13-1.
"It was good to make a statement early," Simmons said of sweeping the reigning NL East champions. "Let them know we're going to be tough to beat. That was a great win for us."
Kurt Suzuki accounted for half of Washington's four hits, while starter Gio Gonzalez (1-1) was tagged for seven runs on seven hits and three walks over five frames for the Nationals, who were coming off a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox before dropping all three games to the Braves.
"I wasn't attacking the strike zone, leaving every pitch up and falling behind on a good team," Gonzalez admitted. "That's all it was."
The Braves jumped on Gonzalez early, as B.J. Upton ripped the left-hander's first offering into left field for a double before moving to third on Jason Heyward's fly out into shallow right field.
After Justin Upton worked a walk to put runners on the corners with one out, Evan Gattis scorched a double off the left-field wall to score B.J. Upton for a 1-0 lead.
Gonzalez seemed poised to escape the jam after fanning Dan Uggla and putting Johnson in an 0-2 hole, but Johnson slapped a curveball back up the middle to plate a pair and give the Braves a 3-0 lead.
Atlanta added to its edge with a four-run third, which Justin Upton started with an opposite-field blast into the right-field seats to make it 4-0.
After Gattis grounded out, Uggla worked a one-out walk and Johnson followed with a single to center before Simmons smacked a fastball into the bullpen in left field to give the Braves a 7-0 cushion.
The Braves tacked on two more in the sixth, as Maholm and B.J. Upton stroked back-to-back one-out singles to set the table for Heyward, who ripped a double down the right-field line to score Maholm.
Justin Upton was then intentionally walked before Gattis' sacrifice fly to right plated B.J. Upton to make it 9-0.
Washington's only real threat came in the eighth, as Suzuki stroked a leadoff single, moved to second on a passed ball and then found third on pinch-hitter Chad Tracy's one-out single.
Maholm bounced back by fanning Roger Bernadina before Luis Avilan took over on the mound and walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. Avilan escaped the jam unscathed however, as he got Ryan Zimmerman to ground back to the mound to end the inning.
Cory Gearrin retired the Nats in order in the ninth to secure the shutout.
Atlanta's nine-game win streak is the club's longest since capturing nine in a row from May 26-June 3, 2010 ... Maholm improved to 2-6 in 11 career starts versus Washington ... Atlanta has won seven straight against the Nationals ... Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa left the game in the fourth inning after being hit by a pitch on the right wrist in the second inning. He was replaced by Steve Lombardozzi.