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Kemp takes the blame for Braves’ latest loss

By GEORGE HENRYAugust 19, 2016
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez (49) works in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez (49) works in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA (AP) — Braves left fielder Matt Kemp couldn’t handle a routine fly ball, a first-inning mistake that put his team in a quick 2-0 hole and set the tone for the rest of the night.

“I just dropped the ball. Unacceptable,” Kemp said. “It changed the mode of the game right there. Robbie (Whalen) pitched a great game. I didn’t help him out by dropping that ball.”

Kemp’s two-base error, a muffed attempt on the warning track, was the first of several Atlanta miscues in the Braves’ 8-2 loss to the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

Reynaldo Lopez struck out 11, and Jayson Werth reached safely in his 46th straight game for the Nationals.

Werth hit an RBI double in the fifth inning to tie Rusty Staub on the Nationals-Expos franchise list for the longest streak of reaching base. Werth went 2 for 4 and has 43 hits and 32 walks during his string, the best in the majors this season.

After rain delayed the start for 1 hour, 16 minutes, Lopez (2-1) struck out eight of the first nine batters. He had 10 whiffs through his first 4 2-3 innings.

Washington broke it open with five runs in the eighth, scoring three runs on a hit batter, a walk and a passed ball. The Braves dropped to 10-30 against the Nationals since June 21, 2014.

Atlanta has been outscored 58-28 in losing seven of its last eight.

“We’ve had chances to win games,” Kemp said. “We’ve just got to play better, show these teams we’re capable of winning games.”

Whalen (1-2) allowed three hits and one earned run in a career-best six innings. The rookie didn’t blame Kemp for the loss.

“It’s not the first time it’s happened in a game and it won’t be the last,” Whalen said. “It’s no big deal. You’ve just got to go get the next guy and refocus.”

The Braves made it 2-1 in the fourth on Nick Markakis’ sacrifice fly. Kemp’s RBI groundout cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth.

Werth’s streak is the longest in the majors since Cincinnati’s Joey Votto reached safely in 48 straight games last year.

SECOND NIGHT IN THE SHOW

Atlanta SS Dansby Swanson went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his second major league game. Swanson, the No. 1 overall draft pick of 2015, went 2 for 4 in Tuesday’s 10-3 loss to Minnesota.

HAPPY AND HEALTHY

Braves ace Julio Teheran is ready to return from the 15-day DL and start Friday. He’s been sidelined since July 31 with strained lat, but is in good spirits after his son Jordan was born Tuesday.

“I’ve got another motivation to play,” the two-time All-Star said. “They just got home today before I got here. It’s good.”

ROSTER MOVES

Nationals: Recalled RHP A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse to work from the bullpen. OF Brian Goodwin was optioned to the same affiliate.

Braves: RHP Arodys Vizcaino, activated from the DL after missing 30 games with a right oblique strain, faced four batters to begin the eighth. He gave up one hit, four runs and walked two. Interim manager Brian Snitker said before the game that Vizcaino won’t immediately reclaim the closer’s role. Jim Johnson has the job for now. ... RHP Jason Hursh was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett.

ROUGH PATCH

Atlanta’s bullpen had an NL-best 2.49 ERA in August before allowing 15 earned runs in its last 8 1-3 innings. Braves relievers began the night with a 4.69 ERA, second-worst in the majors.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said “there’s a good chance” that 1B Ryan Zimmerman (bruised left wrist) and backup C Jose Lobaton (left elbow tendinitis) will be activated from the DL Friday.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Tanner Roark (13-6) is 5-1 with a 1.73 ERA in nine career starts and five relief appearances against Atlanta.

Braves: Teheran (3-9) is 3-3 with a 3.91 ERA in 13 career starts against Washington.

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