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Braves survive ninth-inning scare to beat Nationals

Sep 20, 2022; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) pitches against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Travis d’Arnaud and Dansby Swanson hit home runs and Charlie Morton pitched 5 1/3 strong innings to lift the Atlanta Braves to a 3-2 win over the visiting Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

Atlanta (93-55) has won 10 straight games at home, the longest streak since they set the modern-era club record of 13 straight in 2019. The Braves have won five straight and have won 12 of 15 games against the Nationals (51-97) this season.

The win reduced Atlanta’s magic number to clinch a postseason berth to one game.

To break a scoreless tie, d’Arnaud hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his first since Sept. 2. Swanson delivered a solo homer, his 21st, in the eighth inning.

Morton (9-8) allowed one run on three hits, three walks and nine strikeouts. Morton has 196 strikeouts, leaving him four short of joining teammate Spencer Strider with 200 strikeouts. The Braves have not had two teammates reach that milestone in the modern era.

The Nationals made it interesting in the ninth against closer Kenley Jansen. Ildemaro Vargas reached on a leadoff bunt and took second when Matt Olson dropped a grounder that allowed Victor Robles to reach. After two strikeouts, Luis Garcia singled home a run and stole second. Joey Meneses was intentionally walked to load the bases but Luke Voit flew out to end the game.

Jansen has allowed four runs in nine September appearances. Although, he earned his league-leading 36th save.

Washington starter Patrick Corbin pitched 2/3 of an inning — 12 pitches — when he stepped off the back of the mound and grabbed his back. Manager Dave Martinez went out to replace Corbin, who suffered an apparent back injury.

Erasmo Ramirez (4-2) pitched three innings, allowing two runs on four hits with two strikeouts before running out of gas. He allowed the homer to d’Arnaud.

The Nationals cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth inning. Morton left with runners on the corners and reliever Collin McHugh got Cesar Hernandez to hit a tailor-made double play ball to second base, only to have Vaughn Grissom throw the ball over the head of shortstop Dansby Swanson, which allowed Meneses to score.

— Field Level Media