- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 11, 2009

ATLANTA (AP) - Kelly Johnson singled in the 10th inning to score Jordan Schafer with the winning run, giving the Atlanta Braves a 6-5 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday night after blowing two leads in a rain-delayed game.

Schafer led off the inning with a single to left off Joe Beimel (0-1). He then moved to second on Omar Infante’s groundout and scored easily on Johnson’s hit to right, sliding across the plate ahead of Elijah Dukes’ throw from right field.

The game lasted almost 6 hours, including a 2 hours, 2 minutes rain delay in the top of the fourth inning. Heavy rain, lightning and hail caused the long rain delay.

Jorge Campillo (1-0), Atlanta’s eighth pitcher, worked an inning for the win.

The Braves’ bullpen couldn’t hold 4-1 and 5-4 leads.

Washington tied it in the ninth inning on Lastings Milledge’s two-out, bases-loaded infield hit after Jeff Francoeur gave Atlanta the 5-4 lead with a run-scoring single in the seventh.

Neither starting pitcher returned after the delay.

Derek Lowe gave up four hits and a run in three innings. He left with a 3-1 lead. He struck out six. Shairon Martis gave up five hits and three runs in three innings. He got his first major league hit in the third inning.

After the delay, Atlanta stretched the lead to 4-1, but the Nationals rallied to tie it with three runs in the sixth.

Atlanta recovered to score a run off Saul Rivera in the seventh. With two outs, Rivera gave up Brian McCann’s third double of the game. After reaching a 3-1 count on Casey Kotchman, Rivera issued an intentional walk.

Francoeur hit his first pitch from Rivera up the middle for a single, driving in McCann.

Mike Gonzalez gave up a leadoff double to Nick Johnson in the ninth that Braves left fielder Matt Diaz appeared to lose in the lights. Johnson moved to third on Dukes’ single to right.

After Jesus Flores hit a shallow fly ball to right, pinch-hitter Alberto Gonzalez walked to load the bases. Gonzalez struck out pinch-hitter Wil Nieves.

Milledge followed with a grounder up the middle that Mike Gonzalez couldn’t stop when reaching behind his back. Instead of making the catch, Gonzalez deflected the ball into foul territory beyond the first-base line, allowing Johnson to score the tying run.

It was the second straight poor performance for Atlanta’s bullpen, which couldn’t hold a 10-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh at Philadelphia on Wednesday night. The Phillies rallied for a 12-11 win.

Notes: Washington manager Manny Acta said INF Ronnie Belliard is day to day with lower back tightness that forced him out of Wednesday’s game. Willie Harris started at second base. … Braves manager Bobby Cox said LF Garret Anderson still had some soreness after tweaking his right calf in Philadelphia. Matt Diaz started for Anderson, who hit a pinch-hit groundout in the eighth. … 3B Chipper Jones was back in the lineup after missing Wednesday’s start with a bruised left thumb. … Former longtime Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He retired after last season after 33 seasons calling Braves games.

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