ATLANTA (AP) — Joey Meneses hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off Jesse Chavez in the seventh inning, and the Washington Nationals stopped the Atlanta Braves’ five-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory on Wednesday.
Ronald Acuña Jr. drove in an early run and scored another for playoff-bound Atlanta, which clinched its fifth straight postseason appearance a night earlier.
Atlanta began the day one game behind the NL East-leading New York Mets, who played at Milwaukee. Atlanta had won 10 straight home games, outiscoring opponents 47-16.
The Braves are 52-26 at Truist Park, with only one remaining three-game series against the Mets from Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Atlanta is a big league-best 71-29 since May 31.
Meneses put Washington up 3-2 with his 10th homer, a 420-foot drive to left for the 30-year-old rookie. He leads last-place Washington with 57 hits, 10 homers and 25 RBIs since his major league debut on Aug. 2.
Andrés Machado (2-0) pitched a scoreless sixth, Carl Edwards Jr. escaped a jam with a runners on first and third in the eighth when Eddie Rosario lined out and Kyle Finnegan pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 15 chances.
A baserunning mistake cost the Braves in the eighth. Michael Harris II hit a one-out single to right with Austin Riley on second and William Contreras on first. Third base coach Ron Washington held up Riley, who had rounded third, but Contreras was nearly at third and was thrown out returning to second by catcher Tres Barrera, who had received the throw from right fielder Lane Thomas.
Chavez (4-2) gave up one run and one in two-thirds of an inning.
Atlanta took advantage of Paolo Espino’s erratic throws to first base to make it 1-0 in the first. Acuña led off with a single, advanced to second on a throwing error by Espino on a pickoff attempt and scored when Contreras reached on an infield single and Espino threw wildly to first again.
The Braves led 2-0 in the second when Robbie Grossman singled, advanced on a groundout and scored on Acuña’s single into right-center.
Atlanta had won 11 of 12 against the Nationals and began the day 26-8 in the series since the start of last year.
Bryce Elder gave up one run with two walks and six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings for the Braves, throwing 93 pitches, 58 for strikes. He has allowed two runs in his last three starts and has posted a 0.96 ERA over 18 2/3 innings.
Elder stranded a runner in scoring position in the third. He hit Josh Palacios with a pitch in the fifth, and Palacios advanced to third on Barrera’s single before Thomas’ sacrifice fly trimmed the lead to 2-1. The bases were loaded for Luke Voit with two outs before Elder coaxed a grounder.
Espino gave up four hits and two runs — one earned — in four-plus innings. He has a 4.94 ERA in 17 starts.
Nationals DH Nelson Cruz missed his seventh straight game with eye inflammation.
Washington center fielder Victor Robles ran forward to his left to make a diving catch of Acuña’s fly, stood up and threw accurately to first to double up Vaughn Grissom and get a double play in the fifth. … The Nationals ended the bottom of the seventh with a double play when Dansby Swanson struck out and Grissom was caught stealing. …. Washington RF Lane Thomas got his eighth assist when William Contreras was caught between second and third for the second out of the eighth. … Braves CF Michael Harris II ran hard to his right to make a shoestring catch in left-center in the bottom of the eighth.
Nationals: After an off day Thursday, RHP Josiah Gray (7-9, 5.14 ERA) will face a yet-to-be determined pitcher for the Marlins as Washington opens a three-game series at Miami.
Braves: LHP Max Fried (13-6, 2.52) will face Ranger Suárez (9-5, 3.53) as Atlanta opens a four-game series at Philadelphia. Fried has no decision with a 3.50 ERA in three starts against the Phillies this year.
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