Washington, DC – Dan Uggla's error in the bottom of the 13th inning allowed Danny Espinosa to score the deciding run and lift the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves, 5-4, in the opener of a key three-game series.
Espinosa reached first on a fielder's choice and advanced to third on an infield single by Kurt Suzuki when third baseman Chipper Jones kicked a grounder.
Pinch-hitter Chad Tracy then hit a hard grounder to the right side of the infield. Uggla made a diving stop and had a chance to catch Espinosa at the plate. Uggla fumbled the ball as he tried to grab it out of his glove and it fell to the ground at his feet, allowing Espinosa to cross the plate and stretch Washington's lead over Atlanta in the NL East to a franchise-best six games.
"They were looking to come in here and try to do some damage and walk away here with their heads high. Hopefully now they can't," Tracy said.
The error made a winner out of Craig Stammen (6-1), who worked two scoreless innings of relief after Michael Gonzalez worked around a leadoff double by Martin Prado in the 11th.
Cristian Martinez (5-3) took the loss for Atlanta, which dropped its third straight game.
"I'm proud of the club. They came out and they battled for 13 innings," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I think that we've played some tough ballgames against a very good team and we know we can hang in there."
Neither starter was very effective as Jordan Zimmermann allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks over five full frames and Tim Hudson surrendered four runs on seven hits and four walks through six-plus innings.
The Braves jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Prado doubled to left-center field and raced home on a Jason Heyward single.
Washington responded with four runs in the bottom half. Jayson Werth led off with a double that deflected off Jones' glove and quickly scored as Bryce Harper followed with an RBI single to left. After Ryan Zimmerman singled, Michael Morse grounded out to move the runners up one base. Adam LaRoche's RBI groundout and Ian Desmond's two-run homer made it a 4-1 contest.
Atlanta tied the game with one run in the fourth and two in the fifth. With one out in the fourth, Freddie Freeman walked and Uggla doubled. Paul Janish's RBI single cut the gap to 4-2.
Prado then hit a one-out single in the fifth and scored on Heyward's homer to right, making it 4-4.
The Nationals had a chance to go back in front in the eighth after loading the bases with one out. But pinch-hitter Tyler Moore popped out and Werth flied out to end the threat.
The start of the game was delayed 56 minutes due to rain ... Washington leads the season series between the teams, 9-4 ... The Nationals have won 19 straight games in which they have hit at least one homer ... Atlanta hit 2- for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 14 men on base ... Washington went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 ... The Braves signed first baseman Lyle Overbay to a minor league contract on Monday.