WASHINGTON – The miscues and the losses are starting to pile up for Derek Lowe.
Lowe (6-10) lost his third straight decision. He had not allowed so many runs since June 7, 2010.
"If you make a lot of mistakes, you're going to pay for it," Lowe said. "I've been paying for it seems like every time out."
Lowe ran into trouble in the fourth inning as Ankiel's grand slam capped a five-run burst that gave Washington a 6-3 lead. Ian Desmond hit a two-run homer in the fifth that finished Lowe.
"It's been a tough stretch — long year," Lowe said. "You've got to keep fighting, hopefully things will turn around. But it's definitely one of my longer years in my career."
The Braves' offense struggled to drive in runs once again, even as Dan Uggla (24 games) and Freddie Freeman (17) extended their hitting streaks. Those are the two longest current streaks in the majors.
"All that stuff is bittersweet because bottom line, we need a win," Uggla said. "It's the last thing I'm worried about when you're trying to fight back and get back in it."
Atlanta scored twice in the third on Michael Bourn's RBI double and Martin Prado's infield out. Jorge Constanza's RBI single gave the Braves a 3-1 lead, but they weren't able to add more runs despite loading the bases against Nationals starter John Lannan (8-7). Bourn lined out to left field to end the inning.
"You wish you could get a broken bat or an error or even a hit batter so we could get some runs in there," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
The Nationals did take advantage of their opportunities in the bottom half of the inning. A leadoff walk by Lowe and two singles loaded the bases with no outs. Lannan grounded to first and Freeman's throw home was high, pulling catcher David Ross off the plate as Jonny Gomes scored. Ankiel followed with his second career slam.
"The throw got up in the air a little bit. ... The umpire made the right call," Gonzalez said. "You were a ground ball away from getting out of it, and we didn't get it done."
Overall, Lowe allowed seven earned runs.
"When we get up and score runs, we haven't done a good job of going out and putting up a zero," Ross said.
Lannan struck out a season-high eight and improved to 3-0 against Atlanta this year. He gave up three runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings.
"We got to him early, put up that three-spot. It was 3-1 and I thought we were going to roll," Ross said. "They had some good at-bats and hit some tough pitches."
The Nationals have won four straight games, their longest winning streak since Davey Johnson became manager on June 27. Atlanta has lost three straight.
Desmond drove in three runs, including a home run in the sixth inning, and Michael Morse hit his 18th homer for the Nationals.
NOTES: Atlanta 3B Chipper Jones worked out before the game and said he wasn't ready to start. Jones, who strained his right quad on July 25, has been restricted to pinch-hitting since then. "I need to see what I can and can't do just to give them feedback and see where I still have pain," Jones said. He said he hasn't noticed any improvement nor regression since Monday. ... Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg, recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw 51 pitches — 32 strikes — in a simulated start in Viera, Fla. ... The Nationals recalled RHP Collin Balester from Triple-A Syracuse. ... Washington C Ivan Rodriguez (oblique), who's been on the 15-day disabled list since July 7, is close to being ready for a rehab assignment, Johnson said. ... Atlanta RHP Brandon Beachy is scheduled to start on Wednesday afternoon against Washington's Chien-Ming Wang. Beachy is 4-2 this season and is looking for his second straight victory after not winning his previous four starts. Wang started for the first time in more than two years on July 29 against the New York Mets and allowed six runs — four earned — in four innings. ... Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Lannan drove in his fifth run in his last five starts — doubling his career total to 10.