Af­ter help­ing Nats clinch, Braves rout NL East champs

Rome News-Tribune - - SPORTS - By Stephen Whyno As­so­ci­ated Press Sports Writer

WASH­ING­TON — Two days af­ter help­ing the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als clinch, the At­lanta Braves kept the NL East cham­pi­ons from tak­ing an­other step to­ward home-field ad­van­tage through­out the post­sea­son.

Fred­die Free­man hit a three-run home run off Gio Gon­za­lez and Julio Te­heran threw seven shutout in­nings as the Braves beat the Na­tion­als 8-0 on Tues­day night. Gon­za­lez (14-7) al­lowed five earned runs on seven hits in five in­nings and struck out eight but guar­an­teed

his $12 mil­lion op­tion for next sea­son with his first out of the game as he reached 180 in­nings this sea­son.

“To­day might have been a lit­tle hang­over for them, win­ning the di­vi­sion a cou­ple of days ago,” Free­man said. “I think they’ll get back on the horse and give us a tougher next two days.”

Gon­za­lez and man­ager Dusty Baker didn’t want to call it a post clinch­ing let­down be­cause it would take credit away from At­lanta, which came back to beat the Mi­ami Mar­lins on Sun­day to give the Na­tion­als the di­vi­sion ti­tle.

“They didn’t come in here to cel­e­brate with us,” said Gon­za­lez, who wasn’t feel­ing well at the be­gin­ning of the game. “They came in here to do their job. As far as that, they were swing­ing the bat, they were pa­tient when they needed to be, and they were swing­ing when they needed to be.”

The Na­tion­als lost for just the sec­ond time in eight games and were un­able to fur­ther close the gap on the Los An­ge­les Dodgers for the best record in base­ball and home-field ad­van­tage in Oc­to­ber.

“The play­offs are big on fo­cus­ing on the small things,” catcher Matt Wi­eters said. “We can shore up some things that we can help to where maybe we can scratch a cou­ple runs across that will be tougher to come by when Oc­to­ber’s around.”

Free­man was 3 for 5 and had a

dou­ble to go along with his home run to cen­ter. Ozzie Al­bies went 3 for 5 with a home run, ex­tend­ing his hit­ting streak to 10 games.

Te­heran (11-11) al­lowed seven hits, struck out five and walked two.

“Julio’s been pretty good here the last few times,” At­lanta man­ager Brian Snitker said. “He’s got a lot of sup­port. Been re­ally good, re­ally ef­fi­cient. Stuff’s been re­ally good. He’s reach­ing back and get­ting a lit­tle ex­tra when he needs to.”

‘Step up’ Harper

Baker said the Na­tion­als hope to “step up” Bryce Harper’s base­ball ac­tiv­i­ties with the hope of get­ting him back for the post­sea­son. Harper has been out since mid-Au­gust with a sig­nif­i­cant bone bruise in his left knee and has no time­line to re­turn.

“What’s next is hope­fully have him start hit­ting and see how his legs feel be­cause run­ning and slid­ing and cut­ting and dodg­ing’s go­ing to be the thing,” Baker said. “He’s pro­gress­ing. I got my train­ers (to) let me know when he’s re­ally pro­gress­ing be­cause you don’t want to force him to progress be­cause that leads to re­gres­sion.”

Manuel Balce Ceneta / The As­so­ci­ated Press

At­lanta Braves sec­ond base­man Ozzie Al­bies (1) tags out Wash­ing­ton’s Howie Ken­drick (4) as Ken­drick tried to steal sec­ond base dur­ing the first in­ning of Tues­day’s game.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / The As­so­ci­ated Press

At­lanta’s Fred­die Free­man (right) is con­grat­u­lated by Nick Markakis af­ter hit­ting a three-run home run dur­ing the third in­ning of Tues­day’s game in Wash­ing­ton.

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