- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ATLANTA — Three runs scored on Christian Bethancourt’s single in the sixth inning to help the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 on Wednesday night and preserve their fading playoff hopes.

The Braves, who snapped a five-game losing streak, began the day 5 ½ games behind Pittsburgh for the second NL wild card.

Steven Souza Jr. hit his first career homer for the Nationals. Washington manager Matt Williams gave his regulars a day off one day after the Nationals clinched the NL East title.

Alex Wood (11-10) allowed one run on five hits with eight strikeouts in six innings. Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth for his 44th save, his first since Sept. 6.

Souza’s homer off Wood in the fifth gave Washington a 1-0 lead.



The Braves loaded the bases against Ross Detwiler (2-3) in the sixth. Bethancourt’s sharp grounder bounced off first baseman Tyler Moore’s glove and into right field. Jason Heyward, who was hit by a pitch, scored all the way from first base, following Phil Gosselin and Freddie Freeman across the plate.

Shortstop Danny Espinosa’s throwing error allowed Bethancourt to advance to third base.

Gosselin had three hits.

Blake Treinen allowed only three hits and one walk in five scoreless innings in his first start since June 28. Williams gave his rotation an extra day to rest, pushing Gio Gonzalez, who had been scheduled to start, and other starters back a day.

Souza was hitting only .067 with no homers and no RBIs in 16 games before he crushed a 1-1 pitch from Wood over the centerfield wall.

Braves assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher filled in for Terry Pendleton, who had back discomfort, as the first base coach.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman continued his rehab from a hamstring injury by playing five innings in the Florida Instructional League. He played two innings at third base, three at first base and had four hits in eight at-bats in the simulated game.

Braves: C Evan Gattis missed his ninth straight game with strep throat but could return any day. General manager Frank Wren said follow-up tests revealed Gattis has a kidney stone, and that condition was worsened by the strep throat and dehydration.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Gonzalez and other starters all were pushed back a day to make room for Treinen’s start. Gonzalez (8-10) will face Brad Hand as the Nationals open a series at Miami on Thursday night.

Braves: The Braves, off on Thursday, open a home series against the Mets on Friday night when RHP Julio Teheran (13-12) faces RHP Zack Wheeler (10-10).

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