Braves, Nationals play after splitting doubleheader

The Sports Xchange

August 08, 2018 at 1:33 am.

Ender Inciarte has been swinging a hot bat for the Braves. Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Ender Inciarte has been swinging a hot bat for the Braves. Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — A long day and night of baseball ended with a double-header split and another pitching injury for a Washington Nationals team that can’t afford it.

After winning the day game 8-3, the Nationals couldn’t cash in another strong outing by Max Scherzer, who was matched by Atlanta’s Sean Newcomb, and Washington lost the game and closer Kelvin Herrera in the ninth inning of a 3-1 defeat.

Herrera, who was serving as the closer with Sean Doolittle on the disabled list, allowed a pair of singles and then a one-out triple by Ender Inciarte before leaving with a shoulder injury. He will have an MRI on Wednesday.

“We’ll see,” Herrera said told via an interpreter regarding his level of concern. “We’ve got to see the results (Wednesday).”

Scherzer had allowed a run and four hits over seven innings, while Newcomb gave up a run on five hits in six innings of work. It was Scherzer’s 20th start this season in which he allowed two runs or less.

Inciarte, whose triple down the right-field line was his second hit of the night, is hitting .352 (19-for-54) since he took extra batting practice at Nationals Park following a July 21 rainout.

“He’s swinging the bat really well, which is good to see,” Braves manager Brian Snitker told “He’s worked hard, persevered and stayed strong mentally. It’s good to see how he’s performed after battling. It started when we were here a few weeks ago. I was as happy as I could be for him to get that hit today.”

The split coupled with Philadelphia’s win at Arizona, leaves the Braves (61-49) 1 1/2 games behind the Phillies and the Nationals (58-55) six games back.

Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman hit back-to-back homers in the fourth inning of the opener and then added an RBI single and two-run double, respectively, in the sixth. Jefry Rodriguez, called up from Triple-A Syracuse for a spot start, allowed one run and three hits over five innings.

Atlanta starter Max Fried left after the second inning with a groin strain and it appeared the Braves were in for a long day’s night with a game one loss and Scherzer looming.

“It’s huge for us to split today after a tough loss in the first one,” Atlanta’s Charlie Culberson, whose homer off Scherzer tied the game in the sixth inning of the nightcap, told “Scherzer is a great pitcher. He’s going to do that every night. We battled, stayed in there, and Ender came up big for us.”

Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (8-7, 3.04 ERA) and left-hander Tommy Milone (1-0, 3.00) will face off Wednesday night in the third of four games.

In his last start, Foltynewicz allowed two runs on five hits in six innings in a win over the Mets.

He’s 1-1 against the Nationals this season and is 4-4 with a 4.26 ERA in 10 starts against the Nationals.

The 31-year-old Milone, filling in for the injured Stephen Strasburg, makes his third start for the Nationals. He’s coming off a strong outing against the Mets in which he allowed three hits in seven innings while striking out nine in a 5-3 win.

“I spent probably the last couple of years trying to get back to my old self, and kind of midway through the Triple-A season I felt like I had found it,” Milone told the Washington Post. “So, I’m just trying to roll with it.”

Milone is 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA in two starts against the Braves.