Braves rally, stun Nationals

May 12, 2011

ATLANTA (AP) — Martin Prado hit a tying grand slam in the seventh inning, then scored the winning run on Brian McCann’s single to right field in the 10th, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a 6-5 victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday night.

Doug Slaten (0-1) walked Prado to open the 10th inning, and Prado advanced to second on Nate McLouth’s sacrifice bunt. Slaten intentionally walked Chipper Jones — who homered in the third inning — so that he could face McCann, who delivered the winning hit.

Braves players rushed from the dugout to join him as soon as he rounded first base.

Craig Kimbrel (1-1), who blew his third save in the Braves’ 7-3 loss to the Nationals in 11 innings on Wednesday night, struck out the side in the 10th to earn the win.

Prado’s grand slam off Sean Burnett tied the game at 5-5, spoiling a strong start by the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann. He set a career high with 11 strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.

Zimmermann left the game with a 5-1 lead after giving up a one-out walk to Freddie Freeman and a single to Alex Gonzalez in the seventh. Burnett loaded the bases by walking pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad before giving up Prado’s second career slam on a 3-2 pitch.

Danny Espinosa hit a two-run homer for Washington in the second inning, and Ivan Rodriguez added a sixth-inning homer on a night when balls were flying out of the park.

The two homers matched the total the Braves’ Derek Lowe had allowed in his first eight starts this season. Lowe gave up five hits and five runs in six innings.

Zimmermann gave up soft singles to Prado and McLouth to open the game. With two outs, the right-hander walked Dan Uggla to load the bases before striking out Eric Hinske. It was the third strikeout looking of the inning, and Zimmermann retired two more that way in the game.

Laynce Nix led off the fourth with a double and scored on Adam LaRoche’s single. LaRoche scored later in the inning on a grounder by Rodriguez for a 4-1 lead.

The Braves were without right fielder Jason Heyward for the second straight day. Heyward had a cortisone shot in his sore right shoulder Thursday after an MRI exam showed only inflammation in his rotator cuff.

Gonzalez hit a one-out single off the left-field wall in the ninth inning but was thrown out at second base by Washington left fielder Michael Morse.

NOTES: Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell returns Friday from a two-week suspension without pay. The suspension was imposed by Major League Baseball for his inappropriate comments and gestures to fans before an April 23 game in San Francisco. ... Zimmermann set his previous high of nine strikeouts at Florida on Aug. 31, 2010. ... Prado’s grand slam was the Braves’ first of the season.

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