Nathan Karns took the hill against the Braves Paul Maholm on Sunday in the rubber match of the series. Unfortunately for the Nationals, Karns was let the Braves ahead early and though the Nationals would tie it back up, the bullpen would ultimately ensure the Braves would take the game.
Nathan Karns took the hill for his second career start in the Major Leagues. In the bottom of the 1st, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons got on base via a throwing error from Ryan Zimmerman. Shortly afterward, Ramiro Pena hit a ball that would leave the yard and give the Braves a 2-0 lead with no one out. After a single, then a stolen base to Justing Upton, Karns was able to get the next batters and end the threat.
The Nationals then were able to bring the game back to a 2 all tie in the top of the 2nd inning. A double from Adam LaRoche, then a single from Ian Desmond put runners at the corners with no one out. Tyler Moore singled to drive in the Nationals first run of the game. Ian Desmond would later score after Paul Maholm dropped a ball put in place by the pitcher Karns to make it a tie game.
Karns gave the lead right back to the Braves in the bottom half of the inning, though as he served up a home run to BJ Upton to put the Braves back ahead 3-2. That was all of the offense for a few innings, but then Brian McCann was able to increase the Braves lead off the Nationals young right hander. A single to Justin Upton and a walk to Evan Gattis put runners at 2nd and 3rd. McCann was able to drive in Upton easily with the hit. Ian Desmond homered in the 6th inning to bring the game back within a run, but that is all the Nationals would muster offensively.
Zach Duke was put in during the bottom half of the 5th with 2 outs to relieve Karns. It was Duke who gave up the single to McCann that scored Upton. Then, after throwing 16 pitches, 8 for strikes, Duke was able to end the frame. Duke started the bottom of the 6th, which was not a great decision for the Nationals. Back to back walks put runners at 1st and 2nd for the Nationals lefty, then a sac bunt put runners at 2nd and 3rd. The Nationals battery then intentionally walked Justin Upton to load the bases with one out. Freddie Freeman, the Braves first basemen, then hit a hard drive that drove in 2 runs and left him standing at 2nd. The Nationals were down 6-3 and that was what the final line would be.
Nationals right hander Erik Davis made his Major league debut in the game and did an excellent job through 1.2 innings of work, picking up 2K’s along the way. Fernando Abad pitched an inning with one K and allowed no hits and no walks. It was a positive showing from the 2 young relievers freshly called up to the big leagues.
It is becoming more and more apparent that the Nationals have to make moves. There is too much dead weight being dragged along on the Major League roster and it is effecting the team. While injuries is the key issue with the Nationals lineup, Danny Espinosa is struggling, primarily due to his wrist and shoulder injuries. Zach Duke and Henry Rodriguez continuously fail to produce positive results and the Nationals must begin to make decisions in order to begin to turn things around.