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Braves rally past Nationals for 5-2 win

AP - Sports
Braves rally past Nationals for 5-2 win

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Atlanta Braves starter Alex Wood throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington …

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn't want a repeat of starter Alex Wood's outburst that got him ejected from Wednesday night's game against the Washington Nationals.

He'll take the offense's surge that came an inning later, though.

Justin Upton and Dan Uggla each homered in a three-run sixth inning, and the Braves rallied past the Nationals for a 5-2 victory, lowering their magic number for clinching the NL East title to two games.

''We struggled early, but it was bound to happen,'' Upton said. ''We've been struggling for a while here. At some point, we had to break out.''

Brian McCann and Jordan Schafer also drove in runs as the Braves snapped a three-game skid. Atlanta has not won the division since 2005, the last of 11 straight titles.

Washington entered 4 1/2 games behind Cincinnati for the second NL wild card.

''That's just not enough,'' Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of taking the series two games to one. ''We just can't afford to lose.''

Washington revealed after the game that Stephen Strasburg is being pushed back for the second time because of forearm tightness. He was scheduled to start Thursday but could not get loose Wednesday. He's now scheduled to start Saturday.

''I don't really know why it's happening,'' said Strasburg, who will be replaced by Gio Gonzalez in the rotation. ''When it happens, it happens. It's like a strong cramp. So, I just think it would put us in a bind if I went out there and felt it.''

Kameron Loe (1-2) got one out for the win. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta's seventh pitcher, rebounded from his loss Tuesday to record his 48th save.

As he was being replaced after giving up two runs in the fifth inning, Wood was ejected for shouting and pointing at home plate umpire CB Bucknor. The rookie was upset with Bucknor's ball-four call with the bases loaded earlier in the inning.

''It was just one of those things where I let my emotions get the best of me there,'' Wood said. ''In the latter part of that inning it was a big situation. I kind of felt it could have gone the other way and I did some things, said some things I probably shouldn't have said. (I) Immediately regretted it after I got inside.''

The inning began when Anthony Rendon singled and Washington pitcher Ross Ohlendorf bunted him to second. Span then hit a bouncer to first that Freddie Freeman bobbled for an error, putting runners on first and third.

After Ryan Zimmerman walked to load the bases, Jayson Werth walked on a close 3-2 pitch to force in the game's first run.

Wood slammed his pitching hand into his glove as he came down off the mound and began yelling at Bucknor. Third baseman Chris Johnson attempted to calm Wood, while Fredi Gonzalez came out to argue and was ejected by Bucknor.

''I thought I made a pitch and I didn't. I reacted probably the opposite of the way I should of,'' Wood said.

Asked what he thought of the pitch after seeing the replay in the clubhouse, Wood said, ''He called it a ball. It's a ball.''

When play resumed, Bryce Harper hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Span.

Atlanta bench coach Carlos Tosca came out to remove Wood, who shouted and pointed at Bucknor on his way to the dugout.

''You don't do that kind of stuff on the mound. But he was fired up,'' Gonzalez said.

''That's something you learn from, and control your emotions. So, we'll chalk it up as a young starter in an emotional game that we wanted to win, and he got himself a little excited.''

Washington's Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 29 straight, the longest in the majors this season.

Ohlendorf (4-1) allowed three runs over six innings.

The right-hander, making his second start in place of Strasburg, retired 10 straight to start the game.

But with Atlanta trailing 2-0 in the sixth, Uggla led off with his 22nd homer.

''I mean you can never tell,'' Uggla said of Wood's outburst. ''Things like that, sometimes they can spark something, sometimes the other pitcher just bears down.''

Schafer then bunted and went all the way to third when Ohlendorf's throw to first sailed down the right field line.

Ohlendorf got two outs, but Upton hit the first pitch he saw over the wall in left-center to put Atlanta ahead 3-2. It was Upton's 23rd home run.

NOTES: Atlanta won the season series, 13-6. ... Atlanta OF Jason Heyward (fractured jaw) took simulated at-bats Wednesday, saying it went well. ''It's something to be excited about, but I've got work to do and I'm not going to be satisfied until I'm back,'' he said. ... SS Andrelton Simmons didn't start after playing through neck tightness in Tuesday's doubleheader. Gonzalez said the decision was precautionary, and Simmons entered the game in the seventh. ... Washington LHP Ross Detwiler (back strain), on the DL since July 7, threw a bullpen session Wednesday. He'll throw another this week and then travel to Viera, Fla., to pitch in the Instructional League Monday. Johnson said given the number of games left, it's unlikely Detwiler will pitch for Washington again this season. ... The Braves open a three-game series Friday at the Cubs.

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