Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Justin Maxwell's grand slam in the second inning provided all the offense Washington needed, as the Nationals downed the Atlanta Braves, 4-2, in the finale of a three-game set.
Wilson Ramos added two hits and a run scored for the Nationals, who took the final two games of the set after dropping their previous six contests. John Lannan (8-7) went six innings for the win, as he was charged with two runs on eight hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
"Hopefully next year we're in their shoes," said Maxwell about playing the role of spoiler. "We want to be fighting for a playoff spot. To say that...that's what it is right now. But we're not really thinking about it that way. We want to finish the season strong and build for next year."
Martin Prado went 3-for-4 with an RBI while Melky Cabrera drove in the other run for the Braves, who have dropped three of their last four. Mike Minor (3-1) suffered the first loss of his career as he was charged with four runs on four hits with a walk and six strikeouts over five innings.
Atlanta now sits 2 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for first place in the NL East and saw its lead in the wild card over San Francisco fall to one game. The Phillies play in Florida later on Wednesday while the Giants host theDodgers.
Washington jumped on top in the second inning. With one out, Mike Morse hit a ground-rule double, Ramos followed with a single and Alberto Gonzalez walked to load the bases. Maxwell then drilled a 1-0 fastball deep into the left field stands for his third career grand slam and a 4-0 lead.
"That's what cost us the game right there was the one pitch," said Minor about the grand slam. "I had the pitcher coming up next. The guy is going to do whatever he can. He was only hitting .130-something so he's going to take a big hack. I threw him a good pitch and he took a good swing on it. I should have been smarter with the pitcher coming up."
The Braves got on the board in the fourth, but blew a chance to get more. Troy Glaus led off with a walk and moved to third when Matt Diaz doubled to left. After Alex Gonzalez fouled out on the first pitch he saw, Cabrera grounded out to score Glaus. David Ross then grounded out to end the frame with the score 4-1.
The Braves tacked on another run in the fifth. With one out, Omar Infante doubled. After Jason Heyward flied out, Prado singled to left to score Infante, but he was tagged out at first making a big turn around the base to end the inning.
Atlanta got a leadoff double from Eric Hinske to start the seventh and he moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Infante. Sean Burnett, though, came on in relief and got Heyward to line out to second and then struck out Prado to end the frame.
In the eighth, Washington, which had just one baserunner after the second inning, loaded the bases, but it was with two outs and Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
Atlanta again got a leadoff man on base to start the eighth as Glaus started the frame with a single, but Diaz struck out and Burnett then induced a 5-4-3 double play from Gonzalez.
Drew Storen set the Braves down in order in the ninth to pick up his fourth save of the season.
The Nationals have Thursday off before traveling to Philly for a three-game set against the Phillies...Atlanta plays three games in New York against the Mets starting on Friday...Three of Maxwell's nine career home runs have been grand slams...This was the Braves second home series loss this year and first since April 20-22 against the Phillies...Washington has taken eight of the 15 games with Atlanta this season.