Ian Desmond homer lifts Nats over Braves, 2-1
- Washington Nationals' Ian Desmond (20) celebrates with Jayson Werth, second from right, and other teammates after hitting a game-winning solo home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park, Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Washington. The Nationals won 2-1. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
WASHINGTON (AP) - Ian Desmond led off the seventh inning with a home run - the only run of the game scored on a hit - and the Washington Nationals and their makeshift lineup avoided a sweep Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Desmond ripped a down-the-middle fastball from Alex Wood (1-1) well into the left field bleachers, the Nationals' first hit since the first inning. But it was enough to win on a day when four Washington pitchers combined to allow eight hits.
Taylor Jordan allowed one run over 6 2-3 innings, working out of several jams along the way, and Jerry Blevins (1-0) retired two batters in the seventh to get the win. Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his first save.
Washington's Anthony Rendon scored on an error in the first inning, Atlanta's Freddie Freeman came home on a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and that was all for a long time as Jordan and Taylor kept the bats quiet. The Nationals finished with four hits - three from their first three batters of the game and Desmond's homer.
Wood gave up two runs and four hits over seven innings for the Braves, who have yet to allow more than two runs in a game this season.
Even though there are 16 Atlanta-Washington games to come, the Nationals needed a pick-me-up against a team that was an early thorn in their side a year ago, when a three-game sweep at home in April helped send the Braves on their way to the division title. Washington floundered for half the season. The Braves had won 10 of 12 at Nationals Park.
The Nationals fielded a lineup one could have hardly expected for the first week of the season. Without Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder trouble), Bryce Harper (batting slump), Scott Hairston (placed on the disabled list) and Denard Span (day off vs. a lefty), rookie manager Matt Williams had Kevin Frandsen playing outfield in a regular season game for the first time since 2010.
The Nationals manufactured their first-inning run after Rendon led off with a bunt single and Frandsen followed with a single to left. When Jayson Werth hit a grounder up the middle, second baseman Dan Uggla bounced the throw to first - it wouldn't have been in time, anyway - but it rolled far enough from first baseman Freeman for Rendon to score.
The Nationals might have had a bigger inning, but Desmond didn't quite beat out a slow roller to third - a ruling upheld by instant replay.
Jordan pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth, but the Braves tied it in the sixth when Uggla's flyout to deep left-center scored Freeman.
Jordan was gone after allowing a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt to start the seventh. Blevins came on and struck out Jason Heyward in a lefty-lefty matchup and got B.J. Upton to line out to shortstop.
Soriano struck out Heyward with two on in the ninth to finish it.
Notes: Zimmerman was awaiting the results of an MRI on his right shoulder after making two throwing errors in the first week of the season. He did appear as a pinch hitter, striking out in the eighth. ... Hairston was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique. 1B-OF Tyler Moore was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. ... Both teams are off Monday.