ATLANTA (AP) — Andrelton Simmons gave Atlanta a chance.
Michael Morse had a quick answer for Washington.
Morse’s leadoff homer to right field off Chad Durbin in the eighth gave the lead back to Washington.
“He’s got a lot of juice going that way,” Durbin said. “We come back, score four, it would have been nice to keep it even.”
The Nationals, who swept a three-game series in Atlanta on May 25-27, are 5-1 against the Braves this season. NL East-leading Washington is 4½ games ahead of Atlanta. The Nationals began the night 3½ games ahead of the Mets.
“The good thing is we battled back and made a hell of a game,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Simmons said the loss hurt because the Braves fought back.
“You want the games like this because you want emotional games,” Simmons said. “You want to battle and win so after you win you feel good about yourself, you feel like you accomplished something. But after battling that much and losing, it hurts.”
Jesus Flores homered and Ian Desmond had a two-run single for Washington.
Morse was under instructions to let manager Davey Johnson know if he had more tightness in his right hamstring, a problem that emerged this week in Colorado. Morse let Johnson know in the seventh inning “it was tightening up a little bit.”
Morse’s big home-run swing in the eighth allowed him to protect the hamstring as he casually jogged around the bases.
“I told him his swing kept him from running,” Johnson said with a smile.