MLB: Nats look for another series win over Braves

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The tables appear to be turning in the rivalry between the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals.

With their 7-3 win at home on Saturday, the Nationals have taken two of the first three games in this series after winning three of four May 27-30 in Atlanta. Washington went 5-8 against its Eastern Division rival last season and 5-14 in 2022.

“They’ve got a lot of great players, and they’ve been great for years now,” Washington third baseman Nick Senzel said of Atlanta. “For us to play them and to beat them … I think it’s big. I don’t think our young guys back down. I think they accept the challenge.”

Speaking of young guys, two pitchers who have one major league game between them will pitch in Sunday’s finale as Washington goes for the series win.

Atlanta called up 22-year-old right-hander Hurston Waldrep to make his big-league debut. Waldrep was the 24th overall selection in last year’s MLB draft and pitched to a 3.09 ERA over 10 combined starts for Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett this year.

According to MLB Pipeline, Waldrep is the Braves’ No. 2 prospect and baseball’s No. 72 overall prospect. One of the reasons he is being called up now is to provide extra days of rest for pitchers Chris Sale and Reynaldo Lopez.

“It was obviously a big surprise,” Waldrep, who grew up a Braves fan in Thomasville, Ga., told MLB.com. “It’s pretty cool to just be here, take all of this in, enjoy all of the firsts and just play some baseball.”

His mound opponent on Sunday, 23-year-old left-hander DJ Herz, made his major league debut Tuesday against the New York Mets. Called up earlier Tuesday, when Trevor Williams was put on the injured list with a right flexor muscle strain, Herz (0-1, 9.00 ERA) went four innings against the Mets, allowing four runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out three.

“He was a little nervous,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “Sweating like crazy out there, but in big moments, he kind of settled down a little bit and threw strikes and looked really good.”

On Saturday, Senzel had three hits, including a two-run home run, in the Nationals win. He drove in three runs, walked and scored twice. Former Brave Eddie Rosario had two hits and drove in three runs, and Lane Thomas had two hits and scored twice as Washington won its second straight.

Sean Murphy homered and Marcell Ozuna and Matt Olson had two hits each for Atlanta, which has lost three of four. Murphy, who returned from a strained left oblique injury on May 27, is 5-for-31 with two extra-base hits since being activated.

The Braves have gone 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position in their past two games.

“We have not been playing good baseball. We just haven’t been hitting,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We’ve been pitching really good. We had a great start (from Chris Sale on Friday). We’ve just had a tough time scoring runs.”

Atlanta has scored a total of nine runs in its past four games.

–Field Level Media

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