WASHINGTON (AP) Jackson Rutledge earned his first major league victory while combining with three relievers on a six-hitter, and the Washington Nationals defeated the Atlanta Braves 3-2 in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday.
Sean Murphy homered for Atlanta, which was denied in its first attempt to win its 100th game of the season. The Braves (99-56) are seeking back-to-back 100-win seasons for the first time since 2002-03.
Jacob Young drove in two runs for last-place Washington (69-87), which had lost two in a row and eight of its last 11.
Rutledge (1-1) allowed three hits and struck out four over five innings in his third career start. Kevin Pillar’s sacrifice fly in the second inning drove in Atlanta’s only run against Rutledge.
“It just tells me that I belong here, that I can do it against one of the best records in baseball, one of the best lineups in baseball,” Rutledge said. “That I’m able to have success, it gives me confidence going forward.”
Robert Garcia followed Rutledge with two shutout innings and Hunter Harvey pitched a perfect eighth. Kyle Finnegan allowed Murphy’s two-out homer in the ninth, but retired Eddie Rosario for his 27th save.
Washington took the lead in the bottom of the second. Young’s bases-loaded single off Atlanta starter Allan Winans tied it, and CJ Abrams followed with a sacrifice fly.
Winans (1-2), who was recalled Sunday from Triple-A Gwinnett, surrendered two runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out six in his fifth start for the Braves.
“He does what he does,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He just kept pitching. He got in trouble a couple of times with the top of their lineup up, got out of it, kept us in the ballgame. I thought he did another really, really solid job for us.”
Young added a two-out RBI double in the sixth against Kyle Wright, who was originally scheduled to start Saturday’s game. When it was washed out, he was moved to the bullpen for the rest of the regular season.
Wright, who led the NL with 21 victories last season but was limited to seven starts this season because of shoulder issues, made his first relief appearance since 2019. He yielded a run and three hits in three innings.
“I still believe in myself,” Wright said. “I know the results have been a little tough, but I was really happy with the way I threw the ball today."
Right-hander Spencer Strider (18-5, 3.73 ERA) will start the second game for Atlanta, while right-hander Joan Adon (2-3, 6.28) is expected to pitch for Washington. Saturday’s rainout necessitated the doubleheader.
Braves: Atlanta placed RHP Charlie Morton on the 15-day injured list. Morton left his start Friday after an inning with right index finger inflammation. “It’s just going to be one of those things where he’s going to miss the division series and hopefully we can advance and have him ready for the LCS,” Snitker said.
Braves: After Monday’s off day, RHP Bryce Elder (12-4, 3.63 ERA) starts Tuesday as Atlanta returns home to start a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs.
Nationals: Washington is also off Monday. The Nationals have not announced pitching plans for Tuesday’s opener of a two-game series at Baltimore.
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