WASHINGTON (AP) Mired in a long slump at the plate, Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond found a way to help Washington get a win.
Desmond hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory.
Desmond finished 0 for 3 and his average slipped to .220. He is now batting just .111 in his last 15 games.
''Whether I get hits or whatever, I feel like I bring something to the team every day,'' Desmond said. ''I feel like I contribute. The box score might not say that, but I know what I bring to the team and yeah, it felt good to drive in a run there.''
Bryce Harper started the winning rally with a double to right-center off Dana Eveland (0-1) and gave the crowd and the Nationals a scare when he came up limping badly at second. But after being checked out, he stayed in the game with what he said later was just a cramp in his leg.
Eveland then intentionally walked Wilson Ramos and then walked Clint Robinson to load the bases. David Aardsma came on to face Desmond, who hit his sacrifice fly to deep left that drove in Harper to end the game.
Washington manager Matt Williams gave Desmond two days off before this game to relax a bit and clear his head, and believes that shortstop will turn things around.
''I don't think it's a problem,'' Williams said. ''He works and works and works. He's told you guys and he's told everybody that he will be OK, and he's going to work out of it.''
Felipe Rivero (1-0) earned his first major league victory for Washington with an inning of scoreless relief in the 11th.
The Braves now have dropped two in a row.
Atlanta forced extra innings when it tied the score in the top of ninth against Washington closer Drew Storen. Nick Markakis and A.J. Pierzynski singled to start the inning and put runners on first and third. Storen intentionally walked Joey Terdoslavich to load the bases, and Kelly Johnson followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center that scored Markakis to tie it at 1-1.
Center fielder Denard Span then threw out Terdoslavich at second as he tried to advance on the play. That helped Storen, who retired the next batter to keep it tied after his second blown save of the season.
Both starters came away with no-decisions despite pitching well. Washington right-hander Jordan Zimmermann scattered six hits in eight scoreless innings.
Atlanta starter Shelby Miller retired the first 10 Nationals before allowing Anthony Rendon's single in the fourth - but then retired the next seven Washington batters.
The Nationals broke that streak and took the lead in that seventh inning. Span led off with a walk and went to second when Rendon singled. Span moved to third when Yunel Escobar grounded into a force at second and scored on Harper's bloop single to give Washington a 1-0 lead.
That was the first time Washington even put someone in scoring position. Miller gave up just one run and three hits in seven innings.
''I thought the whole night both pitchers pitched really, really good baseball,'' Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ''I thought it was going to be one of those special nights where maybe both guys get complete games, and one ends up to be a loser, you know, 1-0.''
A BAD STREAK THAT'S NOT SO BAD
Miller now has not won in his last seven starts despite pitching very well. He's given up only 16 runs in 43 1/3 innings but the Braves have scored just 19 runs in those games. Gonzalez said Miller's a pro who will keep going out there. ''I don't worry about his psyche at all,'' the Braves' manager said.
Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman has custom-made orthotics, and manager Matt Williams said he took a ''brisk'' 15-minute walk on the treadmill yesterday. But the manager said Wednesday that there's still no official timetable for Zimmerman's return. Also, RF Bryce Harper has a right leg cramp that bothered him in the 11th inning even though he scored the winning run. He played it down after the game but Williams said the team would take a good look at it again on Thursday.
Nationals: RHP Doug Fister (2-3, 4.80) will make his second start since coming off the disabled list (right forearm tightness). He allowed five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings in a June 18 loss versus Tampa Bay.
Braves: RHP Matt Wisler (1-0, 1.13) makes his second major league start in this game. He held the Mets to just one run and six hits in eight innings in his first start, a 2-1 victory on June 19.