WASHINGTON -- On an emotional day in the nation's capital, the ball left Denard Span's bat and slipped between the legs of Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, scoring two runs and giving the Nationals a thrilling last inning win, 6-5, in the opener of a day-night doubleheader at Nationals Park on Tuesday.
The Nationals completed their last-gasp comeback against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, who entered the game with a 1.04 ERA in 61 appearances. Kimbrel walked two of the first three batters he faced and allowed an infield single to Wilson Ramos to load the bases with no outs.
Chad Tracy hit a grounder to first base to score one run which set the table for Span, who brought home the two deciding runs by hitting one up the middle that Simmons couldn't handle.
After pitching 5 2/3 innings in his past two starts combined, Nationals starter Dan Haren allowed just three hits and one run over six innings on Tuesday, with two walks and four strikeouts. He worked his way out of a first-inning jam and retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced.
Haren made way for Drew Storen, who surrendered three hits and one run in one inning. After back-to-back singles by Chris Johnson and Simmons, pinch-hitter Dan Uggla singled to cut the Braves' deficit to 3-2.
With very little room for error, manager Davey Johnson handed the ball to Tyler Clippard, his most reliable reliever, for the eighth. Clippard answered by uncharacteristically walking Freddie Freeman and trying to blow a high fastball past Evan Gattis, who deposited it in the left-center-field seats. Gattis was hitless in his prior 18 at-bats before the home run.
Atlanta added an insurance run in the ninth inning. Elliot Johnson singled, advanced to second base on a throwing error by Bryce Harper, stole third base and scored on another error by Ian Desmond.
Washington scored its first three runs in the first inning. Braves starter Mike Minor struggled to find his command, walking the Nationals' first two batters, Span and Ryan Zimmerman, before Jayson Werth doubled off the center-field wall.
Harper hit a grounder to second base to score Zimmerman, and Adam LaRoche plated Werth with a single to right. When the inning ended, Minor had already thrown 39 pitches.
The Nationals threatened again in the second. Span singled to extend his career-best hitting streak to 27 games, matching the longest streak in the Majors this season. Span stole second, and then advanced to third when Brian McCann's throw sailed into the outfield.
Werth drew a two-out walk to set the stage for Harper, who smoked a line drive to left-center field. The ball tailed away from Braves center fielder B.J. Upton, but he was able to make a diving catch and prevent two runs from scoring.
The teams play another game Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m.
---- Source: MLB,com