Atlanta, GA – Mike Minor battled through five innings on the mound in the excessive Georgia heat as the Atlanta Braves edged the Washington Nationals, 7-5, in the middle test of a three-game series at Turner Field.
Minor (4-6) allowed four runs on five hits and walked five with two strikeouts to claim the win. Kris Medlen, Chad Durbin and Eric O'Flaherty navigated through the next three frames before Craig Kimbrel worked a perfect ninth to notch his 23rd save of the season.
Andrelton Simmons went 3-for-4 and was one of seven Braves to pick up an RBI in the victory, which snapped a brief two-game skid. Michael Bourn added a double, two runs scored and three walks for Atlanta.
Adam LaRoche clubbed an RBI double and scored twice, and Ryan Zimmerman added an RBI groundout for the Nats, who had won three of four coming in. Michael Morse added two hits in defeat.
The oppressive heat did claim one victim on Saturday, as Washington starter Stephen Strasburg (9-3) lasted just three innings due to heat exhaustion. He struggled with his command -- walking four -- while allowing three runs on two hits and striking out four.
"I didn't know what was going on," Strasburg said of being pulled from the game. "I went out there and just wanted to stay in, just try and push through it, but I guess you have to listen to your trainers. They're looking at my overall health and not necessarily how I'm pitching."
Washington plated a run in its first at-bat to take the early lead. Danny Espinosa ripped a double down the line in left to lead off the frame, moved to third on a Bryce Harper groundout and scored via a Zimmerman groundout.
The Nats added another run on an RBI base hit up the middle by Strasburg, but the Braves roared back to take the lead with three runs in the third.
After Minor fanned, Strasburg walked Bourn and Martin Prado before Jason Heyward crushed a double to left to score Bourn. Freddie Freeman then plated Prado with a sacrifice fly and Dan Uggla capped the inning with a double to left which scored Hewayd to make it 3-2.
"It was hot," Uggla said of the conditions. "You really need to hydrate and go out there and battle. Both teams did. We were lucky to come back and get on top and hold the lead."
Facing Chien-Ming Wang, Simmons started the Braves fourth with an infield single and Juan Francisco brought him home with a double to right. The Atlanta third baseman moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Minor and scored on a Bourn double. Bourn then went to third on a wild pitch and scored when Prado lofted a sacrifice fly to deep center to push the lead to 6-2.
Simmons pushed the Braves lead to 7-2 with an RBI single in the fifth before the Nats got two runs back in the sixth to cut the deficit to three.
LaRoche led off with a walk and Ian Desmond doubled to right to chase Minor. Tyler Moore then beat out an infield single off Medlen which scored LaRoche. Jesus Flores followed and ripped a base hit through the left side of the infield to plate Desmond.
Washington trimmed the deficit to two in the seventh. Morse singled with two down and moved to second on a wild pitch before LaRoche ripped a ball to deep center that was misjudged by Bourn. The ball sailed over his head to the base of the wall to bring home the Nats left fielder.
The on-field temperature at first pitch was 104 degrees, which was the hottest game in Nationals history...Washington finished the month of June with a 15-11 record...Strasburg fell to 2-3 in his career against the Braves...Washington went 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine men on base.