Plenty going on here in the early going at Turner Field, where the Braves lead 3-1 in the top of the fourth…
— The rain began falling in the top of the third and is starting to come down with more force. There’s also lightning strikes in the background. Can’t see this continuing much longer if it doesn’t ease up. … And before I could post that, it indeed has come down harder and the tarp is on the field. We’re two batters into the fourth, the Nats have a man on first and Willie Harris at the plate with a full count. And now the hail is coming down! Dangerous scene here.
— Will the starters return after this delay? That’s a good question. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nats don’t send Shairon Martis back out. He’s 22 years old and they don’t want to take any chances with his arm. Which is a shame, because he was pitching decent. Now it looks like the Nats won’t get a quality start for the fourth straight game.
Before the rain delay…
— Lastings Milledge took a Derek Lowe fastball off his left hand and immediately began writhing in pain. It looked bad. But after a quick examination by the training staff, Milledge shook it off and went to first base. Will bear some watching, though, to see if the hand stiffens up as the night wears on.
— The Nats played some small ball! After Martis hit his first career single to lead off the third and Milledge got plunked, Cristian Guzman laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved both runners up. Ryan Zimmerman followed with a deep drive to right that just got past Jeff Francoeur’s reach, scoring Martis from third. Milledge only made it 90 feet because he had to hold up and see if Francouer was going to catch the ball. Unfortunately, after Adam Dunn was intentionally walked, Nick Johnson and Elijah Dukes both struck out to kill the rally.
— Martis looked sharp in the early going, but he ran into trouble in the bottom of the third. With two on and a 2-0 count on Yunel Escobar, pitching coach Randy St. Claire came to the mound to offer some advice to Martis. His next pitch was a fastball right down the middle and Escobar crushed it to left-center for a 3-run homer.