Nationals End Losing Streak, Defeat Braves 7-2

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Nationals' Offense Returns To Halt Losing Streak

Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Craig Stammen pitched into the eighth inning to win for the first time in 10 starts and the Nationals picked up a rare road triumph, beating Atlanta, 7-2, in the middle installment of a three-game series.

Stammen (2-2), who was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse, made his first start since June 6. The right-hander, who had been 0-2 over his previous nine big league starts, allowed five hits and two runs over 7 1/3 innings. His only other victory this season came April 19 against Colorado.

Stephen Strasburg couldn't give the Nationals a win Monday, but Stammen, a 12th-round draft pick in 2005, helped the team snap a five-game skid overall and win for just the third time in its last 14 contests.

Alberto Gonzalez went 4-for-4 with an RBI and Josh Willingham belted a two-run homer for the Nationals, who ended a seven-game road skid and have just two victories in their last 14 away games. Ryan Zimmermantacked on a two-run double.

Derek Lowe (9-6) was charged with eight hits and four runs over 5 2/3 innings, a much different result than Monday night, when Tim Hudson pitched seven innings in a 5-0 final.

Martin Prado had two hits and drove in a run for the NL East-leading Braves, who lost for just the third time in their last 20 home contests.

Prado tripled to center to drive in Gregor Blanco in the third inning, but the Nationals went ahead with three runs in the fifth. Cristian Guzman walked and Gonzalez singled. One out later, Nyjer Morgan's base hit tied the game. With two down, Zimmerman stroked a ground-rule double to the right-field corner to bring in a pair.

Stammen escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom half when Melky Cabrera grounded out to end the frame.

Willingham scored on a Gonzalez base hit in the sixth and then crushed his 14th homer of the year the following inning, connecting off Peter Moylan with two outs.

Stammen's sacrifice fly to center scored Guzman in the top of the eighth for a 7-1 margin before Cabrera doubled in Prado in Atlanta's half of the inning.

The Braves activated outfielder Matt Diaz from the 15-day disabled list. He struck out pinch-hitting leading off the bottom of the eighth...Atlanta RHP Jair Jurrjens (strained left hamstring) will return to the starting rotation Wednesday. J.D. Martin starts on the mound for Washington...Braves rookie outfielder Jason Heyward, who is on the 15-day disabled list due to a deep bone bruise in his left thumb, said he won't try to play in the All-Star Game in two weeks if chosen...Braves third baseman Chipper Jones went 0-for-4 and had his hitting streak snapped at 11 games...Prado's 110 hits are best in the majors.

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7:10 P.M.: Nationals Look To End Losing Streak

(Sports Network) - Starter Craig Stammen was the odd-man out when the Nationals decided to bring Stephen Strasburg to the majors. Stammen gets another chance at showing he belongs tonight when he leads Washington in the second contest of a three-game set with the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

Stammen hasn't pitched since June 6, when he gave up just one run on seven hits in a no-decision to the Reds. Despite one of his best performances of the season, the right-hander was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Strasburg.

The 26-year-old Stammen returns to the rotation tonight, however, aiming to improve on his 1-2 mark and 5.43 earned run average this season. He has had his share of struggles on the road, where he is 0-2 with an 8.13 ERA in six starts in 2010.

Stammen has faced the Braves just once before, allowing two runs over six innings of a no-decision on Aug. 12.

He'll follow Strasburg, who allowed four runs -- three earned -- over 6 1/3 innings of last night's 5-0 loss to the Braves, the Nationals' fifth setback in a row overall. Strasburg fell to 2-2 on the season despite striking out another seven batters, lifting his season total to 48 in five starts, and has gotten just one run of support in his last three games.

"The kid's good, he's got good stuff," said Atlanta's Tim Hudson, who got the win with seven scoreless innings of five-hit ball. "He's as advertised, but we were able to go out there, scratch and get some (runs) late. I felt really good out there. You're not pitching against the other pitcher, you're pitching against the other lineup. It was a fun game to watch for the fans."

Yunel Escobar, Gregor Blanco and pinch-hitter Omar Infante all singled in runs in the seventh inning for the Braves, who have won three of four overall and 17 of their last 19 home games. They also lifted their lead over the Mets for first place in the National League to 1 1/2 games.

"Not good enough to win the game, period," Strasburg said. "Hudson went out there and pitched very well, went through seven innings. It was a really hard loss for us. For the most part I did well enough to keep the team in the ball game, but things aren't working for us right now. We have to keep our heads up and keep working hard."

Strasburg did not face fellow rookie Jason Heyward as the Braves power-hitting outfielder landed on the disabled list due to a bone bruise on his left thumb.

Chipper Jones went 1-for-3 at the plate for Atlanta to stretch his hitting streak to 11 games. He is batting .385 (15-for-39) in that span with two homers and 10 RBI.

Without Heyward, the Braves will try to lend some offensive support to Derek Lowe, who did not allow a run in a start for the first time this season last time out but still walked away without a decision. The 37-year-old limited the White Sox to five hits over seven scoreless innings on Thursday, but the Braves lost a 2-0 game.

"That was probably the best game that I've pitched [this year], not just because of the results, but because of the situations that were present," said Lowe on Atlanta's website.

Lowe, 37, is 9-5 with a 4.42 ERA this year and 6-2 with a 3.81 ERA in eight at home. He is 6-4 with three saves and a 3.68 ERA in 18 career outings versus the Nationals, 12 of those starts.

Though these clubs have split four meetings so far this year, the Nationals have still won six of the last eight matchups.

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