WASHINGTON – Fredi Gonzalez cannot explain why the Braves have done so well against Stephen Strasburg. The Atlanta manager is just glad his team beat the Washington ace once again.
Aaron Harang outdueled Strasburg, Justin Upton drove in three runs and the Braves avoided a series sweep with a 6-2 win over the Nationals on Wednesday.
The Braves snapped a three-game losing streak as Harang (11-10) held the NL East leaders to one unearned run over seven innings. Upton’s RBI single in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie, and he added a two-run double off reliever Ryan Mattheus during a three-run seventh. B.J. Upton homered for Atlanta.
“This is a big win,” Gonzalez said. “This is a win that you look forward to maybe (tacking) on three or four more in a row and get us back on top of the wild-card mix.”
Strasburg (11-11) allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings. Bryce Harper homered for Washington, which had won three straight.
The Nationals won the opening two games of the series. Atlanta trails by eight games in the division.
“If we came in here and got swept it’s (going to) leave a sour note in everybody’s mouth,” Harang said. “We can’t focus on the division as much as the wild card right now.”
Success against Atlanta has been historically difficult for Washington and Strasburg.
The Nationals dropped to 6-10 this season against the Braves, though they had won five of the previous seven games.
Strasburg has not earned a win against the Braves since Aug. 21, 2012. In four starts this season against Atlanta, the righty is 0-2 with a 7.18 ERA.
Strasburg entered with a 3-0 record in his previous five starts. The NL strikeout leader fanned eight, but lost for the first time since August 8.
“I felt great out there,” Strasburg said. “I felt like I was hitting my spots, and just a couple hits, just out of our reach, and that’s the ballgame.”
Harang struggled recently, going 0-3 with a 7.98 ERA in his last three starts. That version didn’t show Wednesday. He struck out nine and surrendered six hits while improving to 2-0 with an 0.90 ERA versus Washington this season.
Giants 5, Diamondbacks 0
In San Francisco, four pitchers combined on a two-hit shutout and Gregor Blanco had an RBI double as part of a four-run seventh inning that sent the Giants to a win over the Diamondbacks.
Hunter Pence drew a leadoff walk from Arizona reliever Oliver Perez (3-4) to jump-start the San Francisco offense. Blanco fell behind 1-2 and fouled off two consecutive pitches before lining a double past diving first baseman Mark Trumbo. Arizona right fielder Alfredo Marte fumbled the ball as it ricocheted off the wall near the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, allowing Pence to score without a throw.
Pinch hitter Matt Duffy then doubled off Evan Marshall to drive in Blanco.
Brewers 4, Marlins 1
In Milwaukee, rookie Matt Clark hit his first career home run, Wily Peralta pitched into the seventh inning, and the Brewers beat the Marlins.
Peralta (16-10) gave up one earned run and five hits in 6 ⅔ innings to help Milwaukee snap a four-game losing streak and win for just the second time in its last 15 games.
Pirates 6, Phillies 3
In Philadelphia, Andrew McCutchen hit the first inside-the-park home run of his career and Pittsburgh protected its lead in the NL wild-card race, beating the hosts.
Reds 4, Cardinals 2
In Cincinnati, Alfredo Simon shook off a rough start but lasted seven innings and drove in the go-ahead run with the second of his two doubles as the Reds rallied past St. Louis.
Ryan Ludwick hit a solo home run to help Cincinnati win back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 27-28 against the Chicago Cubs.
Mets 2, Rockies 0
In New York, Rafael Montero earned his first major league win and Eric Young Jr. went 3- for-3 with an RBI triple as the Mets beat Colorado for their fourth consecutive victory.
Montero (1-3) returned from the minors and allowed three hits over 5⅓ innings in his seventh big league start.
Dodgers 4, Padres 0
In Los Angeles, Dan Haren tossed seven sharp innings to give the Dodgers four pitchers with 13 wins for the first time in 29 years, and the hosts beat San Diego.
Haren (13-10) allowed four hits, struck out five and walked one.
He joined Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke as the first quartet with at least that many wins since Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela, Jerry Reuss and Bob Welch in 1985.