Despite blown save, Donaldson delivers walk-off win for Braves over Nationals

Even though the Braves unexpectedly had to play the bottom of the ninth inning, they ended up sending the fans at SunTrust Park home on a happy note after Josh Donaldson hit a bases-loaded single to give the Braves a walk-off victory over the Nationals.

For the first few innings of this game, Julio Teheran and Patrick Corbin were locked in an intense pitchers duel. Neither team could manage to push past a run through the first three frames, and the Braves were the first team to break through as they scored in the bottom of the fourth. It seemed like the scoreless trend was going to continue as the first two Braves batters went down in order, but then Ozzie Albies sent a 3-0 pitch into the corner in right field to reach second on a double. Then Austin Riley announced his return to the lineup with a double of his own and just like that, the Braves were first to crack the scoreboard.

They were unable to add on since the Nationals played good National League baseball by walking the eight hitter with two outs to face the pitcher and we all know how that usually ends. The Braves kept on putting runs on the board for the next two innings, though. Ronald Acuna Jr. singled to lead off the fifth and then stole second on a close call. Freddie Freeman made the close shave with fortune pay off as he looped one into shallow right center to bring home Acuña and put Atlanta up by two.

At that point, Julio Teheran was cruising, as it seemed like he was on his A-game for tonight’s start. Up until the sixth inning, Julio had only given up one hit with no walks. The top of the sixth ended up being his wall for the night, as the Nats picked up three singles, with a two-out single from Anthony Rendon putting Washington on the board. The RBI single marked the end of the night for Teheran, but Jerry Blevins was able to get Juan Soto to pop out with runners on the corners to end the inning with Atlanta still in the lead.

The sixth inning was also the end of the line for Patrick Corbin, as Tanner Rainey replaced him for the bottom half of the sixth. The Braves picked up where they left off from the next inning, as a single from Austin Riley and a wild pitch moved him to second base. This set the table for Ronald Acuña to hopefully bring Riley home from scoring position and he dutifully delivered with a double off of the big brick wall in right-center field. Austin Riley scored easily and while the Braves had a shot at picking up some more runs, the newly-inserted Tony Sipp managed to get Freddie Freeman to fly out and the inning ended right there.

Things calmed down considerably until the ninth inning, which is when we once again got to enjoy the stressful experience of watching Luke Jackson pitch to close out a game. This time, a one-out single from Ryan Zimmerman put the tying run aboard. With the Braves just one out away from victory, Luke put a fastball right down the middle and Victor Robles sent it deep into the seats in left-center. The game was tied at that point, but the Braves will always give you hope with their lineup — especially when the top of the order is coming up.

The hope received a major boost when the Nationals inexplicably sent Fernando Rodney out to pitch a second inning. He threw a decent amount of pitches for a reliever in his eighth-inning stint, so it was very strange to see him out there for the ninth. Anyways, this immediately got bad for the Nats as two walks and a single loaded up the bases with nobody out. The Nationals then had a meeting where it seemed like they were going to stop messing around and finally bring in Sean Doolittle. After a long mound meeting where Juan Soto was exchanging gloves with the dugout for some reason or another, Davey Martinez left Fernando Rodney in the game.

That ended up being their final mistake of the night, and it was also a fatal one for them as Josh Donaldson lifted a ball into the outfield. It was easily enough to score a sacrifice fly but it went over Victor Robles’ head and landed at the base of the wall as SunTrust Park went into a state of delirium.

It may have taken an incredibly bad decision to make up for a blown save on Luke Jackson’s part, but we will absolutely take those wins around here. The Braves bounced back from their massive defeat on Thursday night with a walk-off win tonight and now they’ll have a chance to take the series lead tomorrow night.

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