Harper, Espinosa HRs lift Nats past Braves, 8-4
- Danny Espinosa slides in safely for a double.
ATLANTA (AP) - Bryce Harper homered and Danny Espinosa added a three-run shot to help Washington strengthen its hold on first place in the NL East by beating the reeling Atlanta Braves 8-4 on Saturday.
Stephen Strasburg (5-1) was not sharp but still won. He set a season high with four walks while giving up four runs and six hits in five innings. He had six strikeouts.
The Braves' season-worst losing streak reached six games as they fell three games behind the Nationals.
Before the game, the Braves placed Chipper Jones on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a bruised left leg.
Dan Uggla's two-run, tying homer in the fifth was the big hit for the short-handed Braves.
Catcher Brian McCann is still recovering from an illness and did not start. First baseman Freddie Freeman was a late scratch as he continues to struggle with his vision while wearing contacts.
Juan Francisco had three hits, including a double off Tom Gorzelanny to lead off the ninth. Craig Stammen gave a one-out walk to pinch-hitter Jack Wilson. Tyler Clippard earned his third save by striking out Michael Bourn and ending the game on McCann's pinch-hit popout.
Espinosa doubled off Mike Minor to lead off the game and scored on Adam LaRoche's fly ball. Espinosa pushed the lead to 4-0 with his three-run homer off Minor in the second.
Francisco had a run-scoring single and fill-in catcher J.C. Boscan also drove in a run in the second inning.
The Braves pulled even at 4-4 on Uggla's homer off Strasburg. The Nationals answered with two runs off Kris Medlen (1-1) in the sixth.
Pinch-hitter Chad Tracy's double drove in Ian Desmond, who doubled. Tracy pulled up with an apparent groin injury between first and second and had to leave the game.
Rick Ankiel, the pinch-hitter for Strasburg, added a run-scoring triple off the centerfield wall. Michael Bourn appeared set to make the catch before backing into the wall, losing his balance and the ball.
Washington added two runs off Jonny Venters in the seventh. Harper lined his third homer over the left-field wall. Ryan Zimmerman singled and scored on LaRoche's double.
There were loud boos for Jason Heyward in the fifth inning when he bobbled a single by Harper in right field for an error and then took a lackadaisical approach to picking up the ball as Harper raced to second base. Minor pitched out of the jam.
Minor gave up four runs on six hits in five innings, marking the sixth straight start he has allowed four or more runs. His ERA climbed slightly to 6.98.
NOTES: Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he probably will decide Sunday if he will have Chien-Ming Wang move into Ross Detwiler's spot in the rotation. Wang earned the win in his season debut as he gave up one run in three innings after relieving Detwiler in Friday night's 7-4 win. ... Boscan was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett when Jones was placed on the DL. ... Atlanta RHP Brandon Beachy (1.77) and Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez (1.98) will match two of baseball's best ERAs when the teams finish the three-game series on Sunday night.
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