Lopez, Werth help Nationals beat Braves
ATLANTA (AP) Rookie Reynaldo Lopez beat the Atlanta Braves five days ago, so he knew they would likely struggle against his fastball again.
''At the beginning I felt like a caged animal,'' he said. ''I just wanted to get out there and be very aggressive.''
Lopez struck out 11, Jayson Werth reached safely in his 46th straight game and the Washington Nationals pulled away from the Braves 8-2 on Thursday night.
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.
Lopez set a career high for strikeouts and allowed one earned run and four hits in seven innings. He added some maturity by laboring in the seventh and getting out of a jam.
''Sometimes you've got to let them grow up,'' Washington manager Dusty Baker said. ''You can't always recuse them. But he's a calm young man. He made the pitches when he had to and he's getting better and better.''
The Nationals broke it open with five runs in the eighth. They are 30-10 against the Braves since June 21, 2014.
Rob Whalen (1-2) allowed three hits and one earned run in a career-best six innings.
Washington took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two-base error by left fielder Matt Kemp, who dropped Anthony Rendon's fly ball on the warning track to let two runs in.
''I just dropped the ball. Unacceptable,'' Kemp said. ''It changed the mode of the game right there. Robbie pitched a great game. I didn't help him out by dropping that ball.''
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.
Atlanta has been outscored 54-25 in its last seven games.
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.''
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.
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.
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.
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.