Walk-off error gives Braves 2-1 win over Nationals

It wasn’t textbook, but the Braves haven’t won enough lately to care about that. Right now, by any means necessary will do.

After getting another dominant performance from Kris Medlen and an overpowering ninth inning from Craig Kimbrel, the Braves pulled out a 2-1 win against Washington on a walk-off error in the bottom of the ninth Friday night at Turner Field.

Andrelton Simmons and Michael Bourn hit consecutive one-out singles in the ninth, then Tyler Pastornicky’s grounder to brought in the winning run when shortstop Ian Desmond threw wide of the catcher as Simmons slid home.

“Pastornicky was able to make [Desmond] rush,” Bourn said. “With Simmons’ speed, you can’t just play it easy. It was a little bit too his left, and he had to try to make a difficult throw. It got by the catcher and that’s it, we won.”

When Desmond’s throw shot past the catcher, a crowd of 41,797 roared and the Braves tumbled out of the dugout and ran to jump on Pastornicky in a celebration near first base.

“Yeah, just like I hit a homer,” Pastornicky said, smiling. “Oh, man, it’s awesome to get to be a part of that, especially the way this year’s gone for me…. It’s the best adrenaline rush you can get. That’s what we all play for.”

The Braves snapped a three-game skid and won for the sixth time in 16 games against the NL East-leading Nationals. Atlanta has won 20 consecutive games started by Medlen, the longest streak in the majors since the 2001 Yankees won 20 starts in a row by Roger Clemens.

Medlen had a career-high 13 strikeouts in seven innings and allowed five hits, one run and one walk.

“It’s something  I’ve taken pride in my entire life, just winning games, winning no matter what,” said Medlen, who got no decision to snap his six-start winning streak, but remained unbeaten in his past 25 starts. “It’s just worked out that way. I don’t know what it is about me on the mound, but I mean, one of my last starts against Florida in 2010, I gave up five in six innings and we still won the game.  So it’s not like I’m throwing zeroes up there all the time.

“They go to battle for me because they know I’ll go to battle for them.”

Bryce Harper hit a tying home run off him on the first pitch of the sixth inning and Medlen left with the score 1-1.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was asked if the team fed off the energy from the crowd.

“I thought they fed off the crowd a little bit, and I thought they fed off of Medlen,” he said. “They really like playing behind him and the way he goes about his business.”

The Braves, after going 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position during the last four games of their just-completed road trip to slip to a major-league-worst .231 in those situations, went 0-for-7 with RISP against the Nationals. And yet they won, not the first time something like that’s happened lately.

“We’ll take it,” said Gonzalez, whose Braves lead the wild-card standings and are a seemingly insurmountable 7-1/2 games behind the Nationals in the division with only 17 games to play. “You know what keep putting people on base and something’s going to break. We got 10 hits today, hit the ball hard, had some people on base. We’ll take it. We had a sac fly RBI by Simmons, whatever it takes.”

The Braves had a 5-1/2-game lead over the Cardinals in the wild-card standings pending the outcome of St. Louis’ late game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

When closer Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth on just 10 pitches, it sent a jolt of energy through the dugout and the large crowd, which was on its feet chopping and war-chanting throughout the bottom of the ninth.

Braves pitchers had a season-high 17 strikeouts, also a season-high for Nationals batters.

“God, he was fired up,” Medlen said of Kimbrel. Then he joked, “He saw how many strikeouts I had, and I heard he was a little jealous in the bullpen room.

“I just hope I finish the season with more strikeouts than him. That’s all I want.”

Medlen remained 7-0 with a 0.86 ERA in nine starts since moved from the bullpen July 31. He has allowed one or no runs in eight starts, two runs in the other. The right-hander has 66 strikeouts with eight walks in 62-2/3 innings as a starter.

“I knew I had a bunch of two-strike counts; I didn’t necessarily know it was that many [strikeouts],” Medlen said. “Enough about me.  That was a huge win for us, especially against our division rival. A 1-1 game, pitched well from both sides, and our guys battled till the end.”

Freddie Freeman’s recent woes with runners in scoring position continued when he flied out with runners on the corners to end the first inning, and grounded out with two on to end the fifth.

The Braves also wasted a scoring chance after Martin Prado’s one-out double in the third inning. Jason Heyward grounded out and Chipper Jones struck out to strand Prado, who had three of the Braves’ 10 hits.

They took a 1-0 lead in the fourth after Freeman’s leadoff double. Dan Uggla followed with a walk and Simmons, in his third game back from a two-month stint on the disabled list, hit a sacrifice fly to score Freeman. Simmons also had two hits.

The Nationals, after advancing one runner to second base through five innings – on Jayson Werth’s two-out double in the third – tied the score on Harper’s homer. It was the rookie star’s fourth homer in 16 games this season against the Braves.

It was also the second homer off Medlen in an eight-inning span in two starts, after his streak of 52-2/3 homerless innings.

Medlen set a new career high for strikeouts twice in his past three starts, collecting 12 in a five-hit complete game against Colorado on Sept. 3 and topping that Friday. He struck out Jayson Werth to start the game, then after a Harper single up middle, Medlen struck out Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, two of the National League’s hottest hitters of late.

After LaRoche’s leadoff single in the third, Medlen struck out the next three batters, all looking. He also struck out two in the second inning and two in the seventh, when he fanned pinch-hitter Corey Brown with a runner on base to end the inning for his 13th strikeout.

His eight strikeouts looking were the most by a major league pitcher this season and the most by a Brave since Greg Maddux had eight in a 2000 game.

Medlen threw 66 strikes in 96 pitches, and left for pinch-hitter  Bourn to lead off the Braves’ seventh. Bourn lined out to left fielder Roger Bernadina, whose sliding catch was a distant second for Bernadina’s best catches of the night.

With the Braves leading 1-0 and a runner at first base in the fifth, Heyward hit a line drive to the left-field wall that Bernandina caught and somehow held onto as he crashed into the padding and fell to the ground.

Medlen is 12-0 with a 2.58 ERA in 23 starts since the beginning of the 2010 season, and 13-0 in 25 starts dating to May 31, 2009, his third major league game. The only other current big-league pitcher to have a streak of more than 20 starts without a loss is Jose Contreras, who’s on the Phillies’ 60-day DL. He went 17-0 in 24 starts for the White Sox over a span in 2005-2006.

65 comments Add your comment

Matt

September 14th, 2012
10:29 pm

Matthew 19:30

Miami Dave

September 14th, 2012
10:30 pm

How about that win! Great pitching by Medlin and the bullpen! Take that all of you whiners and crybabies!

PaulG

September 14th, 2012
10:46 pm

Cumon aunt blabbys…let’s hear some moaning about ugly, fredi,the fact that we had 10 hits but only 2 runs scored etc ad nauseum

Jo

September 14th, 2012
10:48 pm

wont win much if the risp % doesnt improve. i only wish medlin could pitch evety night!

David

September 14th, 2012
10:49 pm

Tom

September 14th, 2012
10:49 pm

for some people winning just isn’t enough.

PaulG

September 14th, 2012
10:50 pm

Simmons sure makes a difference….usually after an injury it takes time to get back in the groove but not this guy…so far he seems like a sure fire all star next yea

Bob the Blogger

September 14th, 2012
10:57 pm

Medlen can flat out pitch. He’s very Maddux-like with his exceptional control, movement, and confidence. His bullpen days are over.

Ken Stallings

September 14th, 2012
10:59 pm

Lost amid the obviously poor hitting with runners in scoring position is that the Braves have lost a number of those hits on spectacular fielding plays — especially in the sweep by Milwaukee. So, the Braves were due a break and they certainly got a huge one tonight.

Even in this game, the Nationals outfield made a number of great defensive plays, especially the one of the liner hit to the left field wall by Heyward.

Medlen is just sensational. I no longer have any problems comparing his control and stuff with Maddux and frankly it is the most appropriate comparison. Obviously, Medlen needs about 18 more years at this level to match Maddux’s career! But, right now, Medlen has even matched that immortal cut seam fastball that breaks back across the inside of the plate on lefties that Maddux used to such great effect.

Medlen’s curveball is vastly better than the one Maddux had.

Largo

September 14th, 2012
10:59 pm

Great game, especially the pitching.

Who Me?

September 14th, 2012
11:00 pm

Nice to have Simmons back, Desmond’s an idiot. He had time to nail Simmons and just short-armed it. That’s OK, we needed the W and the moral victory. maybe we get a little mo’ for tomorrow nights game.

Gotta start hitting in the clutch though or we’re dead long before the playoffs start. 0-6 tonight before The Rev came to the plate. Sad but true…

bravesgrl4life

September 14th, 2012
11:01 pm

Simmons responsible for both runs – the sac fly and the heads up running to get the 2nd run.

ChipperisGod

September 14th, 2012
11:11 pm

Still not doing well with RISP, but tonight was a scrappy game, where runs are a premium. That’s how this series has been for the most part recently.

Something the whiners and complainers haven’t talked about is the fact that the Braves actually did a nice job of playing small ball in that inning we scored. Freddie get’s a lead off double. Uggs walks. Ross moves the runner over and Andy drives him in with a sac fly. It was nice to see.

Also we got robbed on a bunch of hits again. Heyward’s shot to left. Chipper’s line out to short, Bourn’s first at bat. Freddie’s plate discipline behooves me. Swinging at the first pitch with RISP right after Chipper wrongly did the same.

The team looked to be hungry tonight even when though it was a same result in terms of RISP. We looked hungrier than that series against the Brewers. Great win, and Medlen is just unbelievable.

Go Braves.

JC Boscan III

September 14th, 2012
11:12 pm

Another great game by MedlEn, not Medlin. On the other hand, in the spirit of Ernesto Mejia, whose excellent year at Gwinnett earned him nothing, former AAA Brave Mauro Gomez is hitting .297 with the Red Sox in limited time and had a game-winning triple tonight. Our bench has stunk most of the year, yet Gomez and Mejia were deemed useless by the Braves….. With our lack of clutch hitting recently, we got very lucky tonight. Maybe, the bats will get going before it’s too late! GO BRAVES!!

Ken Stallings

September 14th, 2012
11:14 pm

BTW: I think folks should relax a bit about the Braves making post-season. Frankly, they are. Despite getting swept at Milwaukee, the Braves maintained their Wild Card lead over the Cardinals and actually have increased it over the Pirates and Dodgers! Only the Brewers made any ground and they are still way back.

Looking at the loss column (which is the right way to look at it since you cannot make up losses), the Braves have a 5 game lead tonight over the Cards, 6 games over the Dodgers, and 7 games over the Brewers and Pirates. There are only 17 games left for the Braves. Further, the Cards are at the Dodgers in a four-game series and so the Braves are going to gain ground on either team if they win. The ideal outcome would be a split between the two.

Ultimately, the Braves are sitting pretty and are being given a 99% chance of going to post-season.

JC Boscan III

September 14th, 2012
11:17 pm

Another favorable comparison between Medlen and Maddux is that Medlen fields his position well, unlike several other Braves pitchers. He lands in a fielding position, and has good reflexes. How many times this year has a grounder gone right behind the back of one of our pitchers because he’s not in the correct fielding position for a pitcher after his follow-through…!?! Medlen is fun to watch and does not plod around — his games move quickly.

mistermak

September 14th, 2012
11:24 pm

Lets just hope that Medlin can pitch the one game playoff against the Cards or Dodgers!!

mistermak

September 14th, 2012
11:24 pm

Lets just hope that Medlin can pitch the one game playoff against the Cards or Dodgers!!

mistermak

September 14th, 2012
11:25 pm

there is an echo in here!

Ken Stallings

September 14th, 2012
11:34 pm

I’m thinking that the Braves will have the luxury of tailoring their rotation during the last four games so that they can ensure Medlen is that pitcher and as it stands he certainly should be. More than good chance the Braves will play that game at home. Though it likely won’t be the Pirates making the trip as they are fading fast.

The Cards are in a tight race with a number of teams for that second Wild Card.

Dan The Man

September 14th, 2012
11:36 pm

Nats fan here! Got to tell you-you guys have an amazing pitcher in Medlen. What he has done is absolutely amazing. The problems I see with Atlanta are no run production and you cant depend on winning 1-0 every day. You guys got extremely lucky in Colorado. Another problem is if Medlen pitches the play in game and you win-he probably will not be available until at least game 3 or maybe game 4, becuase of the indiotic playoff system this year.

Larry

September 14th, 2012
11:46 pm

Nice web site AJC. I take the time to offer relevant analysis and then it disappears when I hit “Submit”. You don’t deserve my insights.

Humboldt Harry

September 15th, 2012
12:02 am

Oh, for some clutch hitters!

Mldtown

September 15th, 2012
12:10 am

Meanwhile EOF quitely goes about his work by posting yet another shut-down inning.

scrappy

September 15th, 2012
12:19 am

If the Braves could hit the way Medlen and Kimbrell can pitch, they would be unstoppable.

reckingball

September 15th, 2012
12:45 am

They had 10 hits tonight.

Billy Beaneater

September 15th, 2012
12:50 am

Man it felt good in that stadium tonight. It was like the old days. It was like what the Orioles fans have been feeling. Good Stuff. Go Braves.

Bravesfan54 (J'ACCUSE!)

September 15th, 2012
1:14 am

Minor dilemma: yeah, I know I was with Moses when he crossed the Egyptian desert…grew up with “Spahn and Sain and pray-for rain”…ok, I have been an azzhole for years in never-letting-anyone forget my lineage…but, hell, truth be known my opinion is like…well, you know, everyone’s got one…, and most on this blog are much more knowledgeable than me.

With great humility (if I am not “banned” because of my well-lubricated ‘rant’ about Atlanta not deserving the Braves, an opinion which I do not retreat from for an instant…even in the face of tonights 47-plus crownd), I offer this: Braves need to go with Huddy in the one-game. He’s won 103 games for the Braves over 8 years with an ERA in the 3.35- 3.65 range. I know the future/future is Medlen with his Greg Maddux numbers. I suspect that the team feels invincible with Medlen- but the Braves need to sign Huddy, and you simply can’t make a statement to a veteran with Hud’s numbers that you’re giving the ball to “the kid” in a must-win game. That’s all I’ve got.

Oh…one more thing… I need blog-forgiveness for several years of arrogance. This request is for real. I love the Braves and baseball, but so do 99% on this blog, and I understand my opinion isn’t entitled to more weight because I traveled the sands of Egypt with Moses or saw Danny O’Connell play second base for the Braves after we traded Johnny Antonelli to the NY Giants for him…blah, blah, blah…

Scoots

September 15th, 2012
1:48 am

Sorry fan54, but the ball goes to Medlen for the 1-gamer. You put the guy out there with the best chance of winning, not because you might hurt another guy’s feelings and he might use that against you for a future contract. Besides we still need someone solid to start Game 1 of the next series and that should go to Huddy.

HeyJay

September 15th, 2012
2:03 am

Great game. Could feel the energy at the Ted tonight. Let’s post another W tomorrow.

Hey Medlen, not sure if you know, but Atlanta LOVES dat pitching!

reckingball

September 15th, 2012
2:04 am

I think that the Braves have an option on Hudson for 2013.
I have a feeling that if the Braves want to re-sign Hudson after his contract is over, he will be more than happy, to agree.

reckingball

September 15th, 2012
2:06 am

rah-rah, rah-rah-rah, go braves!
Hope they can keep it going tomorrow.

PaulG

September 15th, 2012
6:39 am

All this stuff about clutch hitting/ hitters….sorry, no such thing…lots of research on the topic….performance in a so called clutch situation is the same as what a team/ player does over time ……arguments to the contrary are a product of the availability heuristic

[...] Walk-off error gives Braves 2-1 win over Nationals [...]

tbhawksfan

September 15th, 2012
7:48 am

Medlin for Braves MVP!? Yes!

HOF 10

September 15th, 2012
7:57 am

All those big-name pitchers discussed at the trading deadline, and none can come close to Medlen.

The circumstances right now are nothing like last September when two or three starting pitchers went down and we had to run rookies out there half the time. We should be able to wrap up a wild card spot in plenty of time to set the postseason rotation, beginning with Medlen pitching the wild card playoff.

longtimefan

September 15th, 2012
8:04 am

Give credit to FG for bringing in Kimbrel to pitch the 9th in a tie game.

NO O

September 15th, 2012
8:05 am

Someone has to give the Braves runs since their WEAK offense CAN’T produce their own.

longtimefan

September 15th, 2012
8:08 am

Larry, not that I enjoy reading your negative comments, but when you click “submit” you have to have a little patience and leave the computer alone until your post is visible.

D man

September 15th, 2012
8:20 am

Could this be the beginning of a great sports weekend in Atlanta? Great win last night…

DaculaJones

September 15th, 2012
8:23 am

So, what’s the magic number for the Braves locking in the Wildcard spot? …..11?

alex

September 15th, 2012
9:18 am

braves definitely will win world serious, but need somehow to find couple more medlens. unfortunately we have one. not enough.

Bud

September 15th, 2012
9:28 am

Eight strikeouts looking! This guy is amazing, maybe the next real Atlanta sports superstar. He is really going to make some dough and on the surface it seems like to couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

BravesBobblehead24

September 15th, 2012
9:33 am

Chris Medlen, you da Man! You proven the critics wrong about being in the starting rotation, earned your way back in the pitching rotation to become a LEAGUE leading pitcher, tied a record with 20 straight or as a friend of mine says scrate wins, and deserves to be permenant in the rotation. :-)

ATLcracker

September 15th, 2012
9:36 am

Med Dog pitched like Mad Dog

bravesfan

September 15th, 2012
9:56 am

that kid is a hurler make sure you lock him in long term atlanta i like the young nucleus. heyward, simmons, pastornicky, freeman, kimbrel, medlin, hanson.

freebird56

September 15th, 2012
10:05 am

My apology to Simmons,Pastornicky, Medlin.No fear guys.Way to play!Now
you guys lit the fire & rest of team will play the game way you do!

drew

September 15th, 2012
10:19 am

Sure wish we had never traded Adam Laroche…Way better than Freeman.

reckingball

September 15th, 2012
10:21 am

Larry @11:46pm………”You don’t deserve my insights.”
I agree with you 100%, I don’t think that we deserve your insights, myself.
haha
go braves

freebird56

September 15th, 2012
10:22 am

Apology to Medlen,not Medlin.Simmons,Pastornicky, Medlen you wear Braves
on your chest.You play w/no fear.Simmons to leadoff,Bourn to 8th.who ever from here on out bats 3rd leave em there!Use everbody unless injured.Its just a game.No fear.Just play!I remember my dreams.You guys
are living it!

Miami Dave

September 15th, 2012
10:27 am

Wow! very few negative comments today! This is the way the Braves blog should be…

Desperado

September 15th, 2012
10:29 am

Not a big FG fan, but I have to give him credit for protect Jason on that blown play at first. Jason slammed his helmet and could have been ejected like Harper was last week. Twice the 1st base umpire was trying to look to see what Jason was doing/saying and Fredi jumped in his face to block his view and argue the call. Sure wish we could see a little more of anger/energy from Fredi…

GAterp

September 15th, 2012
10:46 am

Medlen for Braves MVP? How about Medlen for the NL Cy Young!

No Hope for Braves

September 15th, 2012
10:56 am

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. But one win, does not a World Series make. Just being realistic.

longtimefan

September 15th, 2012
11:20 am

The Braves hold a commanding lead of 6 games on the second WC team, virtually assuring a WC playoff at home. I will take Medlen or Hudson against whatever another team deals. Our rotation can likely be set for the 1st round(yes, you have to think positively-I’m a Braves fan; why would I believe the other team is going to win when we will likely play at home with a better regular season record). During the course of a season every team goes thru hot and cold spells. Look at the Yankees lately or for that matter the 4 teams trailing us. They certainly have played more poorly than us the last few weeks. It is just as possible that our offense comes alive at playoff time than it staying anemic. It’s the hot team during the playoffs that wins the WS not always the best team on paper.

reckingball

September 15th, 2012
11:31 am

No Hope……..”one win, does not a WS make.”
Yeah, but one win does get the team one game closer, to the possibility of making the WS.
Just being realistic.
go braves

htownbravesfan

September 15th, 2012
11:50 am

Big win last night, but the goal is not to make the one game playoff, which is virtually already assured. The goal, obviously, is to advance to the next round and hopefully beyond. With that being said, the odds of us making any headway in the playoffs will greatly depend on the bats waking up. The offense has been horrendous the last couple of weeks. Let’s hope this is the slump and we’ll get into a groove at the end of the season and then into the playoffs. After all, it isn’t very often in any sport a team is ice cold heading into the postseason and then suddenly turns it on.

optimist

September 15th, 2012
12:32 pm

I just love watching Medlen pitch! I venture to say he is the best, if not one of the best, overall pitchers in the game right now.
I will not watch Hanson “pitch” today.

Carl Farvman

September 15th, 2012
12:59 pm

Ken: Ultimately, the Braves are sitting pretty and are being given a 99% chance of going to post-season.

Yeah, and if Medlen can start every game we’llbe OK.

Homer of A-town sports

September 15th, 2012
1:01 pm

Great job Braves. Chop don’t stop until Oct..See all on Peachtree St….Another WS ring for the Braves , another championship for city of Atlanta, and for the Greatest Fans of all fans (Braves Fans)

No Hope for Braves

September 15th, 2012
1:06 pm

Your point was very well made, and taken, Reckingball. But, like you, I have watched them sink like a rock. But here’s hoping for another win today. Thank God for Medlen and Kimbrell. Those guys have some fire in the belly. And maybe more of our players need to get a little pissed, and throw things and cuss. At least it shows they are breathing.

reckingball

September 15th, 2012
1:12 pm

Almost anything can happen in baseball.
go braves

Arizona Brave

September 15th, 2012
1:16 pm

FG has to have a short leash on Hanson today,he can’t let him give the game away after the game Medlen pitched last night.

dcstan

September 15th, 2012
4:18 pm

Love my Nats, in 2 more years Bryce will be Numero Uno in the game, we lose too many 2-1 and 3-2 games but I love the fact that we are still comfortable lead with a few more games to play, respect the Braves big time, like the way they have remain revelant thru out the years by building up the farm system. That is the Nats Blue print also got a feeling that we both will be fighting for the top spot for years to come. GO NATS

[...] 12-strikeout, no-walks game vs. Colorado on Sept. 3 and a 13-strikeout, 1-walk game vs. Washington in his last start. Thirteen strikeouts in seven innings in that Nationals [...]

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