Nats Fall 2-1 to Braves in Home Opener

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Andrelton Simmons of the Atlanta Braves tags out Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals in a run down during the second inning of the Nationals home opener at Nationals Park. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    Benefiting from the decision to overturn Ian Desmond's inside-the-park homer on replay review, the Atlanta Braves beat Washington 2-1 Friday, spoiling the Nationals' home opener and giving rookie manager Matt Williams his first loss.

    Desmond's shot down the left-field line in the fifth inning, which appeared to tie the game at 1-all, was switched to a ground-rule double after a five-minute delay after Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez requested the review. Desmond was sent back to second base and wound up getting caught in a rundown while trying to steal.

    Washington did eventually even the score, but Atlanta's Chris Johnson delivered a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth off reliever Tyler Clippard (0-1).

    Luis Avilan (1-0) got one out in the seventh for the win, and Craig Kimbrel earned his third save.

    After putting two runners on with no outs in the eighth, David Carpenter, Atlanta's fourth reliever, came back to strike out Washington's 4-5-6 hitters. He threw a called third strike past Bryce Harper on a 96 mph fastball that ended the inning.

    Atlanta's first run came on Evan Gattis' homer leading off the fifth against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, who was scratched Thursday because of a fever and upset stomach. A 19-game winner last year, Zimmermann allowed one run and four hits in five innings while striking out nine.

    Atlanta right-hander David Hale, in his third career start, threw five scoreless innings.

    With the bases empty and one out in the fifth, Desmond lined a shot down the third-base line. The ball wound up nestled at the base of some green wall padding, and left fielder Justin Upton stopped pursuing it and raised his arms. The umpires did not halt play, though, and Desmond rounded the bases.

    Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez came out to argue and request a replay review. The game was delayed -- with some in the sellout crowd of 42,834 chanting "Home run! Home run!" -- and the ruling was changed. From that point, fans booed Upton whenever he was involved in the action, whether he was catching a flyout or stepping into the batter's box.

    The Nationals opened the season with a three-game sweep at the New York Mets, but Friday represented a matchup against their tormenters last season. Atlanta went 13-6 against Washington in 2013 en route to replacing the Nationals as NL East champions.

    NOTES: Atlanta's Upton brothers, Justin and B.J., were a combined 0 for 8 with six strikeouts. All told, Braves batters struck out 14 times, giving Washington's pitchers 53 Ks in 37 innings this season. ... Washington LF Harper hit sixth and went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts. Asked about Harper's spot in the order, Williams said: "Bryce's timing's a tick off right now. ... There's a lot that goes into it that I'm not at liberty to share at this point. But he's fine. He'll be fine. And he'll drive in big runs for us." ... Nationals owner Mark Lerner said the club's payroll is "beyond topped out" and that his family is "not going to do something where we're losing tens of millions of dollars a year." ... Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said RHP Doug Fister, on the 15-day DL with a strained muscle on the right side of his upper back, "is feeling better every day" and should start a throwing program "any day now." ... The Braves claimed RHP Pedro Beato off waivers from Cincinnati and made room on the roster by optioning LHP Ryan Buchter to Triple-A Gwinnett.

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