Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Williams Perez throws during the second inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon
September 06, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) Two big innings were enough for the Washington Nationals to overcome the Atlanta Braves and top prospect Dansby Swanson's inside-the-park home run Tuesday night.

Pinch-runner Michael A. Taylor scored the go-ahead run on catcher Tyler Flowers' throwing error as part of a three-run eighth inning as the Nationals defeated Atlanta 9-7.

''You've got to believe and think it and everybody was believing,'' Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. ''The power of positive thinking goes a long way, especially in this game. That brought the crowd back into the game.''

Washington had a five-run third inning for the second consecutive night.

''We just sometimes can't stay away from that crooked number in one inning,'' Atlanta interim manager Brian Snitker said.

Taylor pinch-ran after Braves reliever Jose Ramirez (2-2) walked Ryan Zimmerman. Taylor stole second and, after Danny Espinosa's walk, scored when an off-balance Flowers threw pinch-hitter Ben Revere's bunt attempt well to the left of third baseman Adonis Garcia.

''I knew if I got my hand on it, it had to be quick,'' Flowers said. ''When I went through it all in my head, I imagined it being a little more accurate in my head before it happened. It's a do-or-die play. The game is essentially on the line. I tried to be an athlete and it just didn't work out.''

Trea Turner then hit a two-run single for Washington, which beat Atlanta for the 13th time in 15 meetings this season.

Koda Glover (2-0) retired the only two batters he faced to earn the victory, while Mark Melancon got his 39th save in 42 opportunities.

Washington used seven relievers, who combined to retire 17 of the 20 batters they faced.

''They did a great job tonight,'' Zimmerman said. ''They've done a really great job all year long, coming into games and keeping us where we're at. They're not an easy team to pitch to.''

Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper secured his first career 20 homer-20 steal season with a stolen base in the seventh.

Swanson, the 2015 overall No. 1 draft pick, hit an inside-the-park home run in the second inning. The shortstop lined a pitch from Gio Gonzalez over Turner and high off the fence in center field, 399 feet away. The ball caromed toward the infield, and Swanson slid home headfirst, easily beating the throw from Harper. It was his first career home run.

Swanson, who made his big league debut Aug. 17, entered the game hitting .236 with four RBIs in 55 at-bats. Atlanta's previous inside-the-park home run was by Wes Helms on Oct. 7, 2001.

''It was one of those things where I thought it was going to be my first triple,'' Swanson said. ''Then as I kept going, judging by the reaction in the dugout and the crowd, I thought `Maybe I'll get an inside-the-parker.' I just kept going.''

Swanson's homer gave Atlanta a 3-1 lead, and the Braves added another run in the third on Freddie Freeman's RBI single. But Washington blasted starter Williams Perez in the third inning, collecting three singles before Rendon launched an 0-2 pitch to left for his first career grand slam. Zimmerman chased Perez two batters later with a solo homer.

Perez allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings. Gonzalez didn't fare much better, allowing six runs in three innings.

STREAKS CONTINUE

OF Ender Inciarte singled twice to extend his hitting streak to 17 games, two shy of his career high. Freeman pushed his hitting streak to 13 games with a single.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Braves: RHP Matt Wisler (sore side) played catch a day after he missed his scheduled start Snitker said Wisler would likely need a couple of side sessions before returning to the rotation.

Nationals: Washington recalled INF Wilmer Difo and RHP Lucas Giolito from Triple-A Syracuse. Difo hit .257 with five RBIs in 35 at-bats in earlier stints with the Nationals, while Giolito is 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in four starts in the majors.

UP NEXT

Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (8-5, 4.31) starts the series finale for Atlanta. Foltynewicz earned a victory in his only previous start this year against Washington, allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings on Aug. 12.

Nationals: Strasburg (15-4, 3.59) will return from the DL and start Wednesday. Strasburg has not pitched since Aug. 17 because of right elbow soreness. He is 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA in three starts against Atlanta this season.

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