Division Races Tighten Up
In tonight’s action, three second place teams each picked up wins over the respective leaders in their divisions. Angels ace Jared Weaver spotted the Rangers a run on a homer by shortstop Elvis Andrus in the top of the first inning. The Angels though evened the score in the bottom of the first and then gradually pulled away to a 6-1 victory as Weaver shut down the visting Rangers over the next six innings to pick up his twelfth win of the season against just one loss. The Angels now trail the Rangers by six games in the loss column.
In Detroit, the Tigers ace Justin Verlander allowed just two runs and four hits while striking out six over eight innings to pick up his eleventh win of the season in the Tigers 4-2 victory over the White Sox. The Tigers can tie the ChiSox in the loss column with a win tomorrow, but they’ll have to beat ace Chris Sale (11-2) to do so.
The wildest game of the night though belonged to the Braves and Nationals in DC. The Nationals and their ace Stephen Strasburg, who was celebrating his 24th birthday, stormed out of the gate behind three-run home runs by Michael Morse in the first and Ryan Zimmerman in the fourth to lead 9-0 after five full innings. The Braves though chased Strasburg in the top of the sixth with four hits including catcher Brian McCann’s two-run home run, which extended his hitting streak to ten games. Later in the inning, left-fielder Martin Prado added a two-run double off reliever Michael Gonzalez to cut the lead to 9-4. After adding four more runs in the top of the eighth inning, the Braves then took the lead on All-Star centerfielder Michael Bourn’s two-run triple in the top of the ninth. In came Braves closer Craig Kimbrel with his NL leading 28 saves including the last twenty in a row to seal the deal in the bottom of the ninth. Game over, right?
After second baseman Ian Desmond struck out on three pitches to start the inning, shortstop Danny Espinosa lined Kimbrel’s second offering over the left-center wall to tie the game at nine apiece and give Kimbrel his first blown save since May 2.
On to extra innings.
Neither team threatened to score in the tenth, but Braves second baseman Dan Uggla led off the top of the eleventh with a single and then advanced to second on a throwing error by Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He then moved up to third on the next pitch which catcher Sandy Leon failed to handle for an error on a passed ball. Recently acquired Atlanta shortstop Paul Janish then popped a single over a drawn-in infield to drive in Uggla with the go-ahead run. It was just Janish’s third hit and first RBI in five games since joining the Braves in a trade from the Reds last Sunday.
Chad Durbin pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the eleventh to seal the 4:21 marathon victory and give the Braves their first comeback win from a 9-run deficit since June 7, 1987. The Nationals now lead the Braves by just three games in the loss column. The teams play a doubleheader tomorrow. The Braves bullpen will be shorthanded with both Kimbrel and Eric O’Flaherty presumably unavailable after pitching in four consecutive games.
Jared Weaver, by Jayne Kamin-Oncea, US PRESSWIRE
Dan Uggla and Chipper Jones, by Evan Habeeb, US PRESSWIRE
Jhonny Peralta and Quintin Berry, by Rick Osentoski, US PRESSWIRE