Soto’s go-ahead homer sends Nationals past Braves, 4-2

Nationals_Braves_Baseball_87133 Washington Nationals' Juan Soto celebrates his home run against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh during the seventh inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_60284 The umpiring crew meets before ejecting Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Nolin, left, after he hit Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman with aa pitch during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_61337 Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker argues with umpire Ted Barrett (65) during the team's baseball game against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Reds_Baseball_02433 Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman waits as Washington Nationals' Juan Soto runs the bases on a solo home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_52108 Washington Nationals relief pitcher Kyle Finnegan works against the Atlanta Braves during the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_50724 Washington Nationals' Juan Soto steals second base during the ninth inning of the team's baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_68705 Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Touki Toussaint (62) is removed by manager Brian Snitker during the fourth inning of the team's baseball game against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_52984 Washington Nationals' Juan Soto hits a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_64054 Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Nolin works in the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_19779 Washington Nationals' Lane Thomas (28) steals second base as the ball gets away from Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies (1) during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_08322 Washington Nationals starting pitcher Sean Nolin is ejected after hitting Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman with a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_14609 Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale awards Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman first base after he was hit by a pitch by Washington Nationals starting pitcher Sean Nolin, who was ejected during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_16484 Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Nolin walks off the field after being ejected after hitting Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman with a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_75149 Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Touki Toussaint delivers in the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_81118 Atlanta Braves left fielder Adam Duvall (14) hits a solo home run in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_58159 Washington Nationals' Lane Thomas (28) is safe at first base as Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) handles the wild throw from third baseman Austin Riley in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
Nationals_Braves_Baseball_30539 Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell (19) follows through on a solo home run in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.
(1/17)

ATLANTA (AP) — Juan Soto and Freddie Freeman showed goodwill after each star was hit by a pitch in the first two games of the Washington-Atlanta series.

And then Soto had the final word with a big swing.

The slugger crushed a go-ahead homer in the seventh and the Nationals relied on their bullpen after Sean Nolin’s first-inning ejection to take a 4-2 win over the Braves on Wednesday night.

Soto’s 462-foot drive off Richard Rodriguez (0-1) landed about halfway up the seats in right-center and snapped a 2-all tie. Luis García’s run-scoring double off Drew Smyly in the eighth drove in Yadiel Hernández for a two-run lead.

Soto acknowledged his long homer was especially satisfying, one night after he was hit by a pitch from Braves closer Will Smith.

“It feels really good,” Soto said before adding with a laugh: “It was impressive how far it (went).”

The NL East-leading Braves remained 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Philadelphia, which lost 4-3 in Milwaukee.

Nolin was ejected after only eight pitches. He gave up a one-out single to Jorge Soler, who had three hits, before throwing a pitch behind Freeman.

Nolin hit Freeman in the hip with the next delivery, possible retaliation for Smith plunking Soto in the ninth inning of Atlanta’s 8-5 win Tuesday night.

“When you miss the first time, that’s your one chance and that’s all you get,” Freeman said, adding that after he was hit he told plate umpire Lance Barksdale, “`I’m sorry but that’s two times, that’s clear intent.’”

The umpires huddled before ejecting Nolin. With Nationals manager Dave Martinez wearing a soft cast following a procedure on his left ankle last Thursday, no one came out of the dugout to dispute the ejection.

Nolin insisted he didn’t try to hit Freeman. He said the pitch behind Freeman slipped out of his hand and he hit the 2020 NL MVP when trying to pitch inside.

“After the first pitch flew out of my hand, there didn’t seem to be anything going on so I was a little surprised,” Nolin said, referring to no warning from the umpires.

After right-hander Patrick Murphy got two outs to end the inning, Freeman chatted with Soto as they walked off the field, each with an arm behind the other’s back. Freeman then stopped by the railing of the Nationals’ dugout for a friendly chat with Martinez.

It all was an unusual display of on-field diplomacy, which apparently was effective in putting an end to any talk of further retaliation.

“Everything was good,” Freeman said. “Everything was positive that came out of that. I think we move on from here.”

Martinez said he wasn’t surprised by the visit from Freeman.

“I’ve known Freddie for a long time,” Martinez said. “He’s that kind of guy. He understands that we both respect the game very much and I respect him and the feeling is mutual.”

Washington led 2-0 before Atlanta got homers from Adam Duvall in the fourth and Eddie Rosario in the sixth. Rosario used a golf swing to lift a low curveball from Austin Voth into the right-field seats.

BULLPEN GAME

Five Washington relievers combined to give up only two runs. Murphy, claimed off waivers from Toronto on Aug. 14, threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Voth (4-1) allowed one run in 1 2/3 innings.

Kyle Finnegan gave up a single to Soler with two outs in the ninth before earning his eighth save on Freeman’s lineout to left field.

Martinez said he might ask Nolin to be available for Thursday’s final game of the series.

BIG CATCH

Josh Bell’s 25th homer off Touki Toussaint to lead off the fourth was the first hit allowed by the right-hander. Toussaint struggled with his control, though. He hit a batter with a pitch and issued four walks, including two after Bell’s homer.

Jacob Webb loaded the bases with a two-out walk before Freeman, with his back to the infield, caught Lane Thomas’ popup in shallow right field to end the inning.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals C Keibert Ruiz (right knee bone bruise) had two walks in his return to the lineup. He’ll be busy the remainder of the season. “I want to get him out there and let him get accustomed to playing and let him play every day,” Martinez said. … SS Jordy Mercer (left calf strain) began a rehab stint with Double-A Harrisburg.

Braves: OF Ronald Acuña Jr. returned to Truist Park for the first time since having season-ending surgery in July to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Acuña has been going through a rehabilitation program in Los Angeles. “I think he’s glad to be back here in Atlanta,” manager Brian Snitker said.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Erick Fedde (6-9, 5.27) is 0-3 with an 11.35 ERA in three starts against Atlanta this season.

Braves: RHP Huascar Ynoa (4-5, 3.19) has not allowed a run over 12 innings in two starts, including one win, against Washington.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up