WASHINGTON (AP) — Charlie Culberson homered in a third straight game, Tyler Flowers and Ronald Acuna Jr. added two-run shots and the Atlanta Braves defeated the Washington Nationals 8-3 Wednesday night.
Culberson hit a three-run drive off Tommy Milone (1-1) in the second inning, and it was 7-1 by the fourth. Culberson has eight home runs this season — five against the Nationals.
Atlanta has won eight of 10 to move within a half-game of first-place Philadelphia in the NL East. Washington fell six games back following its second consecutive loss to the Braves.
Acuna also made a sensational catch in the fourth inning to rob Matt Adams of a home run . Acuna raced back to the center-field wall, leaped and snagged the ball with his outstretched glove before sprawling on the warning track. Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz waved his cap to show his appreciation for the play.
Bryce Harper hit his 28th home run for the Nationals, who showed their frustration in the sixth inning when rookie Juan Soto and hitting coach Kevin Long were ejected by home plate umpire Greg Gibson. Soto started jawing at Gibson before stepping into the batter’s box, presumably in regard to the third strike call on his previous at-bat.
Foltynewicz (9-7) allowed three runs, one earned, in 5 2/3 innings. He’s 3-2 in five starts against Washington this season.
Foltynewicz needed 35 pitches to get out of the first inning. He gave up a double, a single and a walk and another runner reached on a throwing error — yet the Nationals scored only one unearned run and left the bases loaded.
In the second, Millone yielded a pair of two-out singles before Culberson sent an 0-2 pitch into the Braves bullpen beyond the left-field wall.
Flowers and Acuna went deep in the fourth to put the Braves comfortably ahead.
It was 7-2 in the sixth before Harper hit a leadoff homer and Soto was ejected. Washington went on to load the bases with two outs before Luke Jackson replaced Foltynewicz and struck out Adam Eaton.
Braves: Placed on the DL on Tuesday with a left groin strain, LHP Max Fried doesn’t expect to be out for long. “It’s just a little sore,” he said Wednesday. “For the most part, I’m just trying to get it better to make sure it’s a non-issue going forward.”
Nationals: RHP Kelvin Herrera was placed on the 10-day DL with a rotator cuff impingement, an injury he sustained Tuesday. If all goes well, he can start throwing by the end of next week. … Stephen Strasburg (cervical nerve impingement) and Erick Fedde (shoulder inflammation) threw in the bullpen. “They both threw well, said they felt good,” manager Dave Martinez said. “The next step for both is to have another bullpen session and go from there.”
With Herrera out, Washington recalled Koda Glover from Triple-A Syracuse. As a rookie last season, Glover notched eight saves in 23 games before rotator cuff tendinitis ended his season in June.
Braves: Anibel Sanchez (6-3, 2.89 ERA) pitches the series finale Thursday afternoon. He’s 10-1 with a 2.11 ERA lifetime against Washington.
Nationals: Gio Gonzalez (6-8, 4.04 ERA) is 0-6 in his last 11 starts since May 28 and owns a 5-11 career record against the Braves.
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