The Braves' Alex Wood and the Nationals' Gio Gonzalez played a game of dueling strikeouts.
Wood won -- going away.
The Braves left-hander struck out a career-high 12 batters to lead the Braves to a 3-1 victory over the Nationals in a nationally televised game at Turner Field Sunday night. It was a much-needed win for the Braves who pulled within 3 1/2 games of the Nationals in the National League East after winning two of three games in the series.
The Braves (60-57) had not won a series since taking three of four games from the Padres on July 25-28. It was the second win in the past 11 games for the Braves, who continued their dominance over the Nationals. The Braves nine of the 13 games between the teams this season and are 22-10 since over the past two years.
Wood, the second-round draft pick out of Georgia, walked Jayson Werth to lead off the eight. He next struck out Adam LaRoche to set his career-high and was promptly replaced after throwing 124 pitches. David Carpenter entered and enduced Ian Desmond to ground in to an inning-ending double play. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 34th save.
It was the second 10-plus strikeout career game for Wood (8-9). He struck out 11 Marlins in an April 22nd start in which he lost 1-0 to Jose Fernandez despite allowing four hits and no walks in eight innings.
It was a second straight solid outing for Wood. He took the loss in his last start despite allowing just one earned run over six innings in a matchup with Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez.
Gonzalez (6-9), meanwhile, couldn't get out of the fifth inning despite sending Braves batters back to the dugout via the strikeout. He fanned eight, including his first six outs of the game, and used the strikeout to get out of jams in the first and fourth innings.
He was not so fortunate in the fifth inning. He was pulled after giving up the go-ahead run on a costly mental error, allowing six hits and four walks while throwing 111 pitches.
The Braves struck out a total of 14 times against National pitchers.
Emilio Bonifacio led off the fifth inning with a bunt single that Gonzalez fielded and tried to flip between his legs to first base. Bonifacio advanced to third after a Tommy La Stella walk and Freddie Freeman hit into a double play. Jason Heyward then grounded to right side of the infield but Gonzalez was late in covering first. The mistake allowed Bonifacio to score.
The Nationals (63-53) scored first when Desmond led off the fourth inning with a home run to right-centerfield.
Justin Upton answered with a home run to left field to lead off the Braves' half of the fourth. With one swing, Upton collected his 1,000th career hit and 500th career RBI.
Evan Gattis delivered a two-out pinch-hit single in the eighth inning to bring home an insurance run.
The Braves will begin a four-game series with the first-place Dodgers on Monday.
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