Timely hitting lifts Nats over Braves

Chad Tracy ripped the go-ahead pinch-hit RBI double as part of a two-run sixth inning and the Washington Nationals pulled out an 8-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves in the middle tilt of a three-game series at Turner Field.

Danny Espinosa finished 2-for-5 with a three-run homer, Bryce Harper ripped a solo shot, Rick Ankiel added a pinch-hit RBI triple and Adam LaRoche contributed a pair of RBI for the Nationals, who have won five of their last six games.

Stephen Strasburg (5-1) blew a 4-0 lead and left the game after five innings, but he was bailed out by his offense in the sixth to come away with the win. He allowed four runs on six hits and four walks while fanning six. Tyler Clippard got the final two outs in the ninth to earn his third save of the season.

"We just try to go out and win as many games as we can," remarked Strasburg. "It's great that we were able to go out and win it and pick me up. I wasn't happy with it, but the bottom line is we won."

Dan Uggla clubbed a two-run homer, while J.C. Boscan and Juan Francisco also drove in a run for the Braves, who have dropped six straight games.

Kris Medlen (1-1) allowed two runs on three hits to take the loss.

Ian Desmond began the Washington sixth with a double to left and Tracy brought him home two batters later when he smashed a double into the left-center field gap to make it 5-4. Ankiel plated pinch-runner Edwin Jackson later in the inning with a triple to deep center for a two-run edge.

Washington put the game away with two more runs in the seventh to cap the scoring. Harper led off the inning by crushing an offering from Braves reliever Jonny Venters over the wall in left, and after Ryan Zimmerman reached on an infield single, LaRoche brought him home with a two-base hit down the line in right.

Earlier, Washington jumped on top with a run in its first at-bat. Espinosa doubled to start the game. Harper walked and Espinosa advanced to third on a groundout by Zimmerman before scoring on a sacrifice fly by LaRoche.

The Nats added three more runs in the second to extend the lead to 4-0. Jesus Flores started the two-out rally with a base hit and Strasburg followed with a single before Espinosa went down and tagged a low fastball from Braves starter Mike Minor, sending it deep and over the wall in left.

Atlanta got on the board in the home half of the inning. Eric Hinske worked a one-out walk and Jason Heyward followed with a base hit. Francisco drove home Hinske with a base hit up the middle and Heyward scored on a groundout by Boscan to cut the deficit to 4-2.

The Braves then evened the game at four in the fifth when Martin Prado ripped a two-out single and Uggla followed by blasting a fastball from Strasburg just over the wall in left-center field.

"It's tough. We've got a lot of our key guys down right now," Uggla said. "It's tough to win when your horses aren't in the lineup. We just have to hope and pray they can get back as soon as possible."

Game Notes

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman did not play...Tracy left the game in the sixth inning after pulling up lame rounding first base...Atlanta's top two hitters (Michael Bourn and Tyler Pastornicky) accounted for seven of the team's 11 strikeouts...Atlanta fell to 4-9 against the NL East this season...Minor allowed four runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three in five innings.