The Braves were poised to snatch back the lead.
Victor Robles had other ideas.
Leaping above the wall to deny a homer, Robles made sure the Washington Nationals bounced back from a stunning loss to beat Atlanta 8-5 on Tuesday night.
“Awesome catch,” manager Dave Martinez said. “That was a game-saver right there, it really was. He went back, found the wall and did everything right.”
With every starter contributing to a 17-hit attack and Eric Thames driving in three runs, the Nationals overcame a 5-2 deficit with a four-run fifth inning.
This time, the bullpen made it stand up, one night after closer Daniel Hudson surrendered a three-run lead in the ninth, giving up a pair of homers including Dansby Swanson’s two-run, two-out shot.
Freddie Freeman homered for the Braves, and Austin Riley could’ve had one in the fifth if not for Robles.
With two outs and a runner aboard, Riley hit a shot that appeared headed over the wall in the deepest part of Truist Park. But Robles drifted back, timed his leap perfectly and stretched above the yellow line to make the catch, preserving a 6-5 lead.
Rounding first, Riley buckled backward in disbelief when he saw Robles holding up his glove to display the ball. On the mound, Wander Suero thrust his right arm toward the sky, clearly relieved that his teammate had bailed him out.
“It was complete instinct,” Robles said through an interpreter. “Right now, I would put that at the top of the list because it saved two runs.”
Josh Tomlin, coming out of the bullpen to make his first start of the season for Atlanta, gave the Braves four decent innings before handing off to a 5-2 lead to Tyler Matzek.
“We got exactly what we wanted out of Josh, exactly what we needed him to do,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker, who has struggled to put together a consistent rotation.
But the Nationals torched Matzek (2-2), who surrendered six hits and four runs — and committed a throwing error — while recording only a single out.
Adam Eaton, Juan Soto and Yan Gomes all had RBI singles off Matzek before Thames drove in the go-ahead run with a hard grounder to first. Freeman knocked it down, but his only play was to step on the bag while Asdrúbal Cabrera scooted home
“The fifth inning kind of got away from us,” Snitker said. “It snowballed there pretty quick.”
Suero (1-0) earned the win with that big assist from Robles. Hudson was handed another three-run lead in the ninth, and this time he retired the side in order with two strikeouts to earn his fifth save.
“I wanted to get him back out there as soon as possible,” Martinez said “It was good to see him throw the ball as well as he did.”
PARADE OF RELIEVERS
Hudson finished off a brilliant night for the Washington bullpen, which turned in five scoreless innings after another rough outing for starter Austin Voth.
The Nationals used seven relievers to finish out the game. Kyle Finnegan came up big in the eighth, taking over with two runners aboard and one out.
He fanned Travis d’Arnaud and got Marcell Ozuna to fly out softly in foul territory.
“So much of having a great bullpen is being able to pick each other up,” Finnegan said
Nationals: 2B Starlin Castro will undergo surgery Friday to insert a pin in his broken right wrist. He still hopes to return before the end of the season. “They’re doing it this way because it will recover a lot quicker,” Martinez said. “He said, ‘If you get to the playoffs, I’ll be back to help you guys.’ That’s encouraging.”
Braves: OF Nick Markakis went on the 10-day injured list just before the start of the game after possibly being exposed to Covid-19. Markakis initially opted out of the season because of coronavirus concerns, only to change his mind and rejoin the Braves a couple of weeks ago. Atlanta called up OF Cristian Pache, one of the team’s top prospects.
Nationals: RH Erick Fedde (1-1, 2.55) will make his first start since July 30. He has worked out of the bullpen in his last three appearances, but essentially made a start his last time out after taking over for the ailing Strasburg. Fedde pitched two-hit ball over 5 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win in a 15-3 rout of Baltimore.
Braves: RH Kyle Wright (0-3, 7.20) will take another shot at his first big league win. He has a career mark of 0-6, struggling to find any consistency despite being one of Atlanta’s top pitching prospects. Wright is coming off another rough outing in a loss at Miami, giving up three runs and six walks over three innings.
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