- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - The Washington Nationals aren’t playing for a playoff spot anymore, and the frustrating losses keep on coming.

A.J. Pierzynski hit two home runs and rookie Matt Wisler threw seven strong innings as the Atlanta Braves beat the Nationals 2-1 on Tuesday night despite a strong outing from Nats starter Tanner Roark.

Roark (4-7), who rejoined the Nationals’ rotation in September, took the loss. He handled everyone in the Braves’ lineup except Pierzynski, who was 3 for 3, giving up just five hits and two runs in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out four, walked one and hit a batter.

“Just two bad pitches,” Roark said. “Usually, it boils down to five pitches in a start that determines if you give up runs or not. So those two pitches, hanging curveball, 3-2 fastball. What are you going to do?”

There was more frustration on the basespaths for the Nationals, who hit into double plays in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. The Nationals had 10 runners reach base, but only rookie Trea Turner crossed the plate, hitting his first major league home run in the sixth. The Nationals were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

Braves rookie Arodys Vizcaino recorded his eighth save in nine chances. With runners on first and second and no outs in the ninth, Ian Desmond bunted into a 2-5-4 double play. Vizcaino then struck out Matt den Dekker to end it.

“We’ve got a chance there to get guys to second and third, a grounder or fly ball or whatever ties it,” said Nationals manager Matt Williams. “(Desmond) was out there early enough. It bounced straight down and straight up for the catcher in fair territory. Again, we didn’t execute.”

Bryce Harper, playing in his first game since being involved in a fight with teammate Jonathan Papelbon in the Nationals’ dugout Sunday, was 0 for 3 with a walk, including an inning-ending double play in the eighth.

Pierzynski’s second home run came while leading off the seventh and broke a 1-1 tie as he lifted a 3-2 pitch into the right-center field seats. He also hit a solo shot to right field in the fourth. It was just the third multihomer game by a Brave this season - Atlanta is last in the league in home runs.

Wisler (7-8) picked up the victory, giving up one run while striking out four and walking two.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman will likely not play in the season’s final week due to an oblique strain. … 3B Yunel Escobar missed the series opener with a sore upper back. He is likely to play the next five games.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann (13-9, 3.68) could be making his final start with the Nationals in the second game of the series at Atlanta. Zimmermann will be a free agent at the end of the season. He was drafted by the Nationals in 2007 and has a 70-49 career record, making at least 32 starts each of the past four seasons, including this year. He is 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in five starts vs. the Braves this year.

TAKING A WALK

Harper set an Expos/Nats franchise record with his 124th walk, breaking a mark set in 1973 by Ken Singleton. He walked with two outs and the bases empty in the fourth inning.


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