(Saturday, July 21st)
Final Score: Atlanta 4, Washington 0
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Early returns on Ben Sheets' comeback are pretty good.
Sheets once again pitched six scoreless innings, and the Atlanta Braves made an early lead stand up in a 4-0 win over the Washington Nationals to begin a day-night doubleheader.
The four-time All Star was inserted into the rotation last Sunday and threw six scoreless innings against the Mets, and he followed it up with a carbon copy performance in Washington.
Sheets (2-0) allowed five hits and three walks while striking out six to help the Braves win their third straight and climb to within 1 1/2 games of the Nationals atop the NL East.
"It feels the same pretty much every time," Sheets said. "It's consistent, my delivery's consistent, just trying to make pitches. Even during great runs, there's hiccups. It's how you get up and respond."
Brian McCann and Chipper Jones homered in the victory, allowing Atlanta to make an early lead hold up a day after coming back from nine runs down on Friday.
Roger Bernadina had two hits for the Nationals after replacing Bryce Harper, who exited the game after bunting a ball off his foot in the first inning. Harper remained until the end of the second, but had to come out; his status for the nightcap is uncertain.
Edwin Jackson (5-6) was dealt a hard-luck loss after allowing only one run in seven innings. He yielded five hits and two walks while fanning nine.
"Days like we had last night -- it's important as a starter that the next day you go out as deep as you can to save the bullpen," Jackson said. "Those guys worked hard last night."
Washington couldn't hold a 9-0 lead on Friday, eventually losing in extra innings, but Atlanta made a one-run advantage stand up after McCann homered to lead off the second inning.
The Nats had plenty of opportunities, though.
Sheets retired Adam LaRoche with two on and two outs in the first, then stranded a runner at second with nobody out in the second inning. Washington grounded into double plays in both the third and fourth and stranded two more runners in the sixth.
All in all, the Nationals went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on the day. The Braves' bullpen was just as good as Sheets, with Kris Medlen and Chad Durbin combining on three scoreless innings.
Atlanta added some insurance in the late innings, when Michael Bourn singled, stole second and third and scored on a wild pitch in the eighth and Jones hit a two-run pinch-hit homer in the ninth.
The Nats recalled pitcher John Lannan from Triple-A Syracuse and also reinstated outfielder Xavier Nady from the 15-day disabled list and designated him for assignment...The Braves activated pitcher Jonny Venters from the 15- day disabled list and placed outfielder Matt Diaz on the 15-day disabled list...The Braves went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position...Washington still leads the season series, 6-4, though they are 1-3 against Atlanta at home.
07/21 19:05:34 ET