National League Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, September 16th (All times Eastern)
Atlanta Braves (89-60) at Washington Nationals (79-70), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Atlanta - Mike Minor (13-7, 3.15) Washington - Dan Haren (9-13, 5.02)
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Braves are nearing their first National League East title since 2005 and will start a six-game road trip Monday with the first of three straight contests against the Washington Nationals.
The Braves' magic number to clinch a division title is four and they hope to bounce back from Sunday's 4-0 loss to the San Diego Padres in the finale of a three-game series at Turner Field. The Braves had won four of six games and starting pitcher Julio Teheran gave up all four runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Freddie Freeman had the lone extra base hit with a double for the Braves.
"We feel like we're alright," Braves third baseman Chris Johnson said afterward. "We're going to go in (Washington), try to win some ball games. It's a good thing (that) if we win the series, we win the division."
Atlanta will also visit the Chicago Cubs on this upcoming trip and hope Mike Minor can pitch the club to a win at Nationals Park. Minor is 13-7 in 29 starts with a 3.15 earned run average and has lost back-to-back trips to the hill following a seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0).
Minor allowed five runs (4 earned) and 11 hits in six innings of a 5-2 loss at Miami on Wednesday. The left-handed Minor has made eight career starts against the Nationals and is 3-2 with a 5.03 ERA.
The Nationals are still fighting for a playoff spot and sit 4 1/2 games off the final wild card berth in the National League.
Washington was pegged to run the table in the NL East, but the Braves earned that distinction. The Nationals have won eight of their last nine games and hammered the Philadelphia Phillies, 11-2, on Sunday.
Jordan Zimmermann improved to 18-8 with seven innings of two-run ball and struck out seven batters.
Wilson Ramos had a big night by going 4-for-4 with a home run, five RBI and two runs scored, while Ian Desmond drove in three runs.
"He's been hitting the heck out of the ball, catching good, throwing people out. He's hard to take out of the lineup," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of Ramos.
Bryce Harper had three hits and scored three times and Denard Span added two hits to extend his career-high hitting streak to 26 games. Span owns the second-longest hitting streak in Nationals history, as Ryan Zimmerman had a 30-game streak in 2009.
Every starter in the Nationals' lineup recorded at least one hit.
Dan Haren will try to keep the Nats in playoff contention when he toes the rubber Monday night. Haren is 9-13 with a 5.02 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) and halted a three-start winless slide in last Wednesday's 3-0 win over the New York Mets. He hurled six shutout innings, allowed one hit and struck out eight batters with just one walk.
Haren, a right-hander, is 5-2 with a 5.11 ERA lifetime against the Braves in eight games, seven of which have been starts.
Atlanta is 12-4 against the Nationals this season and has won all six meetings in D.C.
09/16 10:37:32 ET