Jun 1, 2013, 2:36 AM EDT
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Denard Span slides into third base on one of his two triples tonight.
Game in a nutshell: The opener of a crucial series for the Nationals against a Braves team standing in its path in the NL East got off to what looked like a disastrous start from Washington's perspective. Stephen Strasburg was pulled after two innings with what a source familiar with the situation called a "muscular issue in his lower back." Strasburg clearly wasn't happy when told by manager Davey Johnson and pitching coach Steve McCatty he would be leaving the game,but the club decided not to take any chances. That put a tremendous strain on the Nationals bullpen, but Craig Stammen saved the day with four perfect innings in emergency relief of Strasburg. A pair of triples by Denard Span, a pair of sacrifice flies by Steve Lombardozzi and a manufactured runs in the bottom of the second gave the Nationals a 3-1 lead entering the seventh. Tyler Clippard made things very interesting when he allowed one run before loading the bases, only to strike out Dan Uggla and Chris Johnson to escape the jam. Drew Storen then pitched a scoreless eighth, setting the stage for Rafael Soriano to finish this off in the ninth. With that stress-filled victory, the Nationals climbed back over the .500 mark and drew to within 4 1/2 games of the Braves.
Hitting highlight: Too often, the Nationals have tried to generate offense with power. Tonight, they decided to manufacture theirRead more »
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