- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2007

ATLANTA — Two lineup changes by manager Manny Acta helped the Washington Nationals end an eight-game road losing streak.

Ryan Church gave the Nationals their first lead in the series with a three-run homer in the sixth inning, and D’Angelo Jimenez had three hits and three RBI in yesterday’s 7-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

“We couldn’t get swept,” Jimenez said of the three-game series. “We had been playing good ball. We needed to play good ball again.”

And so the Nationals did.

After committing eight errors and being outscored 16-3 by the Braves in the first two games of the series, Washington again played like the team that had come to Atlanta with a five-game winning streak.

“It’s always good to win on getaway days,” Acta said. “Those flights seem to take forever when you lose.”

The Nationals have a three-game lead over the Florida Marlins for fourth place in the National League East as the franchise seeks to avoid a fourth straight last-place finish.

Acta tried to downplay his lineup moves, but the results were obvious.

Church, whose playing time has diminished with the acquisition of Wily Mo Pena, started for Nook Logan in center field. Jimenez, in the minors for nearly half the season, subbed at shortstop for Felipe Lopez.

“It’s tough [when you don’t play much],” Jimenez said. “There’s going to be bad times and hopefully some good times.”

Said Church: “You have to take advantage of your opportunities. You don’t know how many of them you’re going to get.”

Chipper Jones hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and the Braves were up 3-1 when Church came to bat with two on and one out in the sixth against Lance Cormier (2-5).

After working the count to 3-and-2, Church got the breaking ball he was expecting and put the Nationals ahead with a long blast to center field for his 12th home run.

“Curve, slider, whatever it was, I knew it was coming,” said Church, who had a run-scoring double as a pinch hitter Friday night.

Cormier realized as much after the ball disappeared over the fence.

“I didn’t want to give in, and I’d thrown him curve balls before,” the pitcher said. “He was probably sitting on it, and the pitch was a little up.”

Leadoff man Jimenez had RBI singles in the third and eighth innings, plus a RBI double in the seventh.

“He’s a good hitter,” Acta said, noting Jimenez’s .368 average at Class AAA Columbus.

Church and Jimenez weren’t the only players who came through for the Nationals at the plate. Dmitri Young, who had been in a 3-for-25 slump, was 2-for-2 with a double and two intentional walks. Ryan Zimmerman broke a 0-for-13 skid with his 23rd homer in the ninth inning.

Jason Bergmann (4-5) gave Washington a quality start, but it was left-handed reliever Arnie Munoz who really came through for the Nationals.

Pitching in the majors for the first time since 2004, Munoz entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning and induced the dangerous Jones, who was hitting .330 with 25 homers, to hit into a forceout.

“That was the out of the game,” Acta said.

Said Munoz: “It feels good that he had confidence in me. He’s seen me in winter ball.”

Chad Cordero pitched a perfect ninth for his 32nd save.

The Braves had won nine of their last 10 home games against Washington, but the Nationals didn’t roll over this time.

“After two losses like [we had here], it’s nice no matter how you win,” Acta said.

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