Washington Nationals @ Atlanta Braves
Scheduled Start Time: 7:10 PM ET
(Sports Network) - All the Atlanta Braves needed to break out of their funk was a visit from the Washington Nationals.
The Braves have won nine straight against their NL East rivals and can earn a series win with a victory tonight in the continuation of a four-game set at Turner Field.
Prior to this series, the Braves were riding a four-game losing streak and snapped the slide with Monday's 3-2 win. Tim Hudson then took the mound Tuesday in search of his 200th career win and came through with seven strong innings in an 8-1 decision, allowing one run and three hits. He also homered and finished 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored.
'It was just one of those nights,' said Hudson. 'The stars aligned and I guess it was meant to be. You rarely have the chance to accomplish something like this and hit a home run. Our team is in first place and we're playing some pretty good baseball. Things are good.'
Freddie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons each went 3-for-5, with Freeman adding three RBI and Simmons connecting on his second homer of the season to go with three runs scored. Evan Gattis had two hits and two runs batted in for Atlanta, which is 4 1/2 games ahead of Washington for the division lead.
In other news, Braves catcher Brian McCann is progressing after undergoing right shoulder surgery and could be back in the lineup next week. McCann is working his way back in the minor leagues.
'I'll be ready,' McCann said. 'Where I'm at right now, I feel really good.'
Atlanta hopes starter Paul Maholm can revert back to his early dominant ways when he gets the nod versus the Nationals. Maholm started 3-0 with a 0.00 earned run average, but has lost back-to-back starts, allowing a total of 11 runs in that time. His streak ended April 20 at Pittsburgh with six innings of three-run ball and continued in Friday's 10-0 loss at Detroit.
Maholm, who has made four straight road starts, was tagged for eight runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Tigers. His ERA is now 3.30. The lefty beat Washington with 7 2/3 shutout innings on April 14 in a 9-0 triumph and is just 2-6 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 career starts against the Nationals.
The Nationals are back under the .500 mark and have lost seven of 10 games. In Tuesday's loss at Turner Field, Wilson Ramos was credited with the lone RBI and the club produced only three hits to Atlanta's 12.
Gio Gonzalez drew the start and the left-hander failed to get his team on track by giving up five runs and seven hits with nine K's in four innings. The loss dropped Gonzalez to 2-2 on the season.
'Today is one of those things you just can't explain,' Gonzalez said. 'You either attack the strike zone or you don't. You get nine strikeouts then five walks. They make some good contact and then they get broken-bat hits. It's just one of those games you just can't explain.'
Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was not in the starting lineup due to a balky left ankle and right hamstring.
'I originally wanted to play if I could, but after talking to (manager) Davey (Johnson), I don't think I had a chance to play either way,' Werth told the club's website. 'I think I'm auditioning for tomorrow. I'm pretty sore, but I don't think it will be a big deal.'
Jordan Zimmermann will be tasked with trying to slow down the Braves when he takes the mound for Washington Wednesday. Zimmermann is a solid 4-1 in five starts to go along with a 2.00 earned run average and is coming off a one-hit shutout of the Cincinnati Reds on Friday. Zimmermann struck out four and issued one walk in the 1-0 victory.
'He pitches his butt off every time he goes out there,' Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said of Zimmermann. 'He is a competitor, he uses his fastball really well and he throws a lot of strikes. You are going to get a great performance out of him every night.'
The Nats hope the right-hander can solve the Braves, a club he is 2-1 against in five career starts with a 3.81 ERA.
Atlanta swept the three-game series a few weeks ago at Nationals Park.