Nationals top Braves 3-1 on den Dekker's 2-run double
ATLANTA (AP) Matt den Dekker began the day as a minor leaguer in Syracuse and ended the night as a hero for the Washington Nationals.
There was little time for den Dekker to think about the unexpected opportunity.
Pinch-hitter den Dekker, recalled from the minors earlier in the day, had a tiebreaking, two-run double in a three-run seventh inning that led the Nationals over the Atlanta Braves 3-1 Wednesday night for an opening two-game sweep.
Stephen Strasburg (1-0), starting his final season with the Nationals before becoming eligible for free agency, allowed one run and six hits in six innings.
Den Dekker arrived at Turner Field in the fifth inning after catching a flight from Triple-A Syracuse.
''I didn't even have time to think,'' den Dekker said. ''I got in the dugout and was told the pitcher's spot was coming up. I grabbed my bat and gloves and got ready to go. I didn't even have much time for a scouting report.''
Atlanta led 1-0 before Ryan Zimmerman singled leading off the seventh with a single and scored from second on an infield hit by Wilson Ramos, who advanced on first baseman Freddie Freeman's wild throw to the plate. Following an intentional walk to Danny Espinosa, den Dekker batted for Strasburg and hit the two-run double to right-center.
''He just got off the plane and came through for us,'' said manager Dusty Baker. ''Man, that was something. ... Fortunately for us, he came through with a big, big, big hit.''
Braves right-hander Bud Norris (0-1) said of den Dekker: ''You've got to give it to him. That's a tough spot for him, to pinch-hit.''
Norris, making his Atlanta debut after signing as a free agent, gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings.
Jonathan Papelbon gave up one-out singles to Adonis Garcia, who had three hits, and Nick Markakis in the ninth. With Garcia at third and pinch-runner Drew Stubbs on second with two outs, Papelbon struck out A.J. Pierzynski for his second save.
Washington recalled den Dekker when it placed center fielder Ben Revere on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique. When the move was announced before the game, Baker said he didn't know when den Dekker would arrive.
''He might be here in the eighth or ninth to win it,'' Baker said.
Baker's guess was off by an inning.
OUT AT SECOND
Michael A. Taylor replaced Revere in the starting lineup and threw out Garcia and Pierzynski at second base in the fourth inning, both trying to stretch singles. Pierzynski's hit drove in Markakis, who had walked.
GREAT CATCH - AND THROW
After Bryce Harper's leadoff single in the fourth, Zimmerman hit a drive toward the right-center gap. Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte, running toward right field, made a diving catch and landed on his chest. Harper was already standing on second base when Inciarte quickly returned to his feet and threw to first base to complete the double play.
Inciarte made another running catch of a drive by Harper, reaching over his head for the catch, to end the sixth.
KING OF Ks IN D.C.
With his third strikeout of the game, Strasburg passed Jordan Zimmermann's Nationals record of 903 strikeouts. The milestone came when he fanned Norris in the third inning, and Strasburg's four strikeouts boosted his career total to 905.
Nationals: Revere was scheduled for a MRI in Washington on Thursday. Baker said he didn't know how long Revere will be on the DL but said ''it didn't appear that he was going to be able to play within a week.''
Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark is to start for Washington in its home opener against Miami on Thursday. Roark was 3-4 with a 4.82 ERA in 12 starts last season and 4-7 with a 4.38 ERA in 40 games overall.
Braves: Following an off day on Thursday, RHP Matt Wisler will try to extend his short history of success against St. Louis in Friday night's series opener against the Cardinals. Wisler was 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA in two starts against St. Louis in his 2015 rookie season.