If Braves fans were worried about where the magic at Turner Field went, they were reminded that anything can happen with one swing of the bat.
After a disappointing start to Tuesday’s opener, the Braves scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th to close a 7-1 deficit to 7-6 thanks in large part to Dan Uggla’s three-run blast.
While the Braves were able to make it a game after that 5 run inning, they were unable to string together any more hits after Uggla’s homer and lost to the Nationals, 7-6.
Tuesday, the Braves handed Craig Kimbrel a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the 9th, but the youngster was unable to lock down the save, blowing the lead before the Nationals scored 4 in the top of the 11th and took the middle game of the series, 7-3.
With no chance at salvaging the series, the Braves went into Thursday’s contest knowing they needed some momentum heading into the weekend set with the Phillies.
Heading into the bottom of the 7th, the Braves were looking up at another deficit, this time 5-1.
But two walks and a single with one out loaded the bases for Martin Prado.
Prado worked the count full before depositing a fastball over the heart of the plate into left center field, tying the game at 5.
After two walks with no outs in the bottom of the 10th, Brian McCann came up in a situation he has thrived in of late - with runners in scoring position.
McCann, who is hitting .500 with runners in scoring position, turned on a Doug Slaten fastball, a double in any other situation, but just enough to score Prado from second and seal the victory for the Braves.
It was just the type of victory the Braves needed before the Phillies arrived for a weekend series at Turner Field.
In game 1, the Nationals took advantage of a rare error on Freddie Freeman and capitalized to take a 1-0 lead on Tim Hudson.
In the 4th inning, the Nationals capitalized again, and once again, thanks in part to a Freeman error, as Lance Nix hit a three-run shot to give Washington a 4-0 lead.
Prado, known to set a spark underneath his Braves teammates, drilled Jason Marquis’ 1-1 offering to left, putting the Braves on the board.
Once again, the Braves spirits were dampened, for a short time, as Jayson Werth crushed Hudson’s offering for a 3-run shot, putting Washington up 7-1.
Braves fans nearly threw in the towel when Fredi Gonzalez decided to let Cristian Martinez hit for himself to lead off the 8th, but consecutive hits from Prado (single), Eric Hinske (double) and
Chipper (single) before a McCann walk put two runners on for Uggla.
After working the count to 2-2 on Tyler Clippard, Uggla gave Braves fans a huge reason to start choppin & chantin, as he crushed Clippard’s offering to left for a 3-run homer.
But that was all the Braves got Tuesday, as the Nationals bullpen recorded the next 5 Braves hitters in order to wrap up game 1.
In Wednesday’s game, the Braves got off to a solid start, as McCann’s double in the bottom of the 1st brought Prado and Chipper around.
The Nationals scored a run in the top of the 2nd, but the Braves extended their lead in the bottom of the 7th on Hinske’s leadoff homer.
Heading into the top of the 9th, Kimbrel was ready to lock down the save and head into Thursday’s finale looking to earn a series victory.
But his plans were foiled, as the Nationals scored two runs in the top of the 9th before scoring 4 more in the 11th to thwart any Braves comebacks that night.
In Wednesday’s finale, the Nationals had already wrapped up the series victory and were looking for a sweep. Little did they know, they were just hours away from witnessing the magic at Turner Field first hand.
Washington jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the 2nd, and Chipper’s solo shot to right center pulled the Braves within on.
But the Nationals scored two more in the top of the 4th and another in the 5th, giving starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman all the support he needed, or so Washington thought, to lock down the victory.
Zimmerman cruised through the first 6 innings, giving up four hits and the homer to Chipper before allowing Alex Gonzalez to single after walking Freeman with one out.
That ended Zimmerman’s day, and after striking out 11, the righty had to watch his bullpen attempt to hold the lead.
Sean Burnett came in and immediately walked Brooks Conrad, loading the bases with one out for Prado.
Prado, who was held hitless in his two at bats against Zimmerman, worked the count full before crushing a fastball into the seats in left center and sending Braves Country into a frenzy.
After Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel combined to walk one batter over two innings, Slaten walked Prado and intentionally walked Chipper before McCann delivered a little magic off his bat, driving Prado in for the winning run .
With a quickness, the Braves turn their attention to the Phillies, who send Hamels, Blanton and Halladay to the mound, while the Braves send Beachy, Jurrjens and Hudson.
The Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Marlins in Florida after the Braves took 2 of 3 from the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
If the Braves look to take the series (again), here are some keys
- Make the pitchers work.
- We see this time after time, and especially with Philadelphia’s pitchers, the more they work, the less movement they have on some of their pitches, which proves to be a positive for the opposition
- Do not fall behind their hitters
- The Phillies have a lineup, as we all know, that can punish any opposing pitcher on any given night. The more their hitters guess, the better chance the Braves pitchers have of keeping them off balance
- Continue the magic
- As seen twice against Washington, the magic is still prominent at Turner Field. The Phillies have been witnesses to this, and there is no better time than now to show them what the magic is like in 2011
Notes: Freeman’s errors were the first two this year.. Jason Heyward did not start in the final two games of the series with a sore shoulder.. reliever Peter Moylan will be out 8-12 weeks with a bulging disk in his back.. Prado’s grand slam was the Braves first this year.. This is the Phillies second trip to Turner Field this year. They took 2 of 3 from the Braves April 8-10.. pitching coach Roger McDowell returns to the bench Friday after serving the suspension levied after his actions’ in San Francisco before a game against the Giants.. The Braves are now 8-3 in May and 21-13 overall.. Zimmerman’s 11 K’s were the highest by a National pitcher since June 8, 2010, Stephen Strasburg’s first start when he struck out 14.