WASHINGTON — Ben Sheets pitched six shutout innings, Brian McCann and Chipper Jones homered and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 4-0 on Saturday in the opening game of a day-night doubleheader.
Outdueling Nationals starter Edwin Jackson (5-6), Sheets (2-0) extended his scoreless innings streak to 12 in his return after missing last season because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The victory pushed the Braves’ winning streak to three and moved them within 1½ games of the NL East-leading Nationals.
The Nationals have lost three straight, including the series opener Friday night, blowing a 9-0 lead before falling 11-10 in 11 innings.
Washington removed Bryce Harper from the lineup after two innings for precautionary reasons after the 19-year-old fouled a bunt off his left ankle.
McCann’s solo homer in the second inning, his 16th of the season, gave the Braves their first run. Atlanta added another in the eighth as Michael Bourn scored on a wild pitch by reliever Henry Rodriguez. Jones, entering as a pinch-hitter in the ninth with a runner on, clobbered the first offering from Ryan Mattheus over the right field wall.
In his second start of the season and with light rain falling intermittently, Sheets threw 91 pitches, allowing five hits with six strikeouts and three walks. The Nationals put runners on in five of the opening six innings. Three times, they had two men on base, but could not capitalize.
Sheets threw a fastball past Adam LaRoche for a strikeout with two on to end the first. With runners on the corners and one out in the third, he induced Michael Morse into a double-play grounder. After allowing a single and one-out walk in the sixth, the 33-year-old nimbly recorded the final two outs, including another strikeout of LaRoche.
Jackson struck out nine to match his season high while allowing five hits and two walks over seven innings. His one mistake was McCann’s homer, as the Braves catcher extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a high drive over the right-center wall.
Harper’s failed bunt attempt came in the bottom of the first inning. Limping and doubled over in pain for several moments, the first time All-Star completed the at-bat by striking out. Harper returned to center field in the second inning, but Roger Bernadina replaced him on defense for the top of the third with the Nationals trailing 1-0.
Bourn finished with two of the Braves’ nine hits and had two stolen bases. He swiped third as the front end of a double steal in the eighth inning before scoring on the wild pitch.
Braves second baseman Dan Uggla finished 0 for 4, all on strikeouts, three coming against Jackson.
Bernadina had two hits and threw out Paul Janish attempting to move from first to third on Michael Bourn’s one-out single in the fifth.
Note: The opening game was a makeup for the June 1 rainout. … With two RBIs, Jones has 1,600 for his career. . Nationals OF Steve Lombardozzi and Braves 1B Freddie Freeman had their hitting streaks end at 13 and 11 games, respectively. . The Braves recalled RHP Randall Delgado to start the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader against John Lannan, making his 2012 debut.
Sheets stymies Nats; Harper leaves early
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