- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 24, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - Stephen Strasburg pitched through the fifth inning Tuesday night, long enough to make the Atlanta Braves take notice.

Strasburg didn’t allow a run in his return from the disabled list, and the Braves’ rally against the bullpen fell short in a 3-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.

Cameron Maybin homered in the eighth inning, and Nick Markakis had three hits for Atlanta in a game that was delayed more than two hours at the start by rain.

Alex Wood (4-5) allowed three runs and 10 hits over seven innings, outlasting Strasburg, but not outpitching him.

“Strasburg was probably the best since I’ve been here - two-and-a-half, three years,” said Wood, whose loss dropped the Braves three games behind the NL East-leading Nationals.

Atlanta has typically caused Strasburg (4-5) troubles. Even after Tuesday’s start, his career ERA against the Braves dropped only to 4.01, his highest mark against a division opponent and third-highest against a National League club.

But after missing 21 games with neck tightness, Strasburg returned to allow only one runner as far second base against on the day Atlanta sent power-hitting first baseman Freddie Freeman to the disabled list.

Strasburg allowed four hits and a walk while striking out six. He threw 94 pitches in an outing cut short by a team-imposed pitch count.

“His curveball was looking real good,” said Chris Johnson, who had one of the Braves’ four hits against the starter. “He was working both sides of the plate.”

Anthony Rendon tied his career-high with four hits and Wilson Ramos added three for the Nationals, who have won four straight while allowing a total of four runs.

The Nationals got to Wood for runs in three of the first four innings.

In the third, Michael A. Taylor singled and took second when Maybin misplayed the ball in center field. Taylor stole third and came home on Span’s one-out single past a drawn-in infield to make it 2-0.

Washington made it 3-0 in the fourth when Taylor drove in Danny Espinosa after Espinosa reached on what Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez thought should have been a double-play ball.

“It could’ve been a lot worse, too,” Gonzalez said of those innings. “And you’ve got to give Woody a lot of credit . they didn’t put a crooked number up.”

Maybin homered off Matt Thornton with two outs in the eighth. Markakis and A.J. Pierzynski followed with singles, but David Carpenter came on to retire Juan Uribe.

Drew Storen recorded his 21st save after he allowed singles to Andrelton Simmons and Kelly Johnson, then walked Jace Peterson to load the bases. Maybin popped out to the catcher to end it.

“It’s disappointing,” Wood said of the loss. “You come in here with first place in the division on the line. We battle from start to finish.”

SLIDE SNAPPED?

With his second-inning single, Johnson snapped an 0-for-16 skid going back to June 13. He finished 1 for 3.

HISTORY NOT REPEATED

Uribe’s at-bat against Carpenter was a rematch from the 2013 NLDS, when Uribe’s two-run homer for the Dodgers off then-Braves reliever Carpenter clinched the series in Game 4. This time, Carpenter got Uribe to fly out on the fifth pitch of the at-bat.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: An MRI on Monday did not reveal a more serious injury for Freeman (bruised right wrist), who was placed on the DL on Tuesday and has not played since last Thursday. “Just a contusion,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully, we get him back sooner than later.” Freeman is a career .340 hitter with nine homers, 44 RBIs, and 44 runs scored against Washington.

UP NEXT

Atlanta RHP Shelby Miller (5-3, 1.99) takes a 0.73 ERA over four career starts against the Nationals into Wednesday’s game. He will face LHP Jordan Zimmermann (5-5, 3.75), who has lost three straight starts.


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