5 takeaways from Braves’ 5-3 win over Nationals

The Braves scored four runs in the first two innings and protected their lead the rest of the way, defeating the Nationals 5-3 at Truist Park Monday.

Here are five takeaways from Monday:

1. The Braves tagged Nationals’ starter Joe Ross for three runs in the first inning, including catcher William Contreras’ two-RBI single. It was a nice way for the team to rebound from its dreadful showing Saturday, when it lost 13-2 to the Mets.

“It is (a reminder of the talent atop the Braves’ lineup),” manager Brian Snitker said. “You look at the names on the jerseys and it’s pretty good. It was good to get on the board early.”

Credit: John Bazemore

Credit: John Bazemore

2. Braves starter Charlie Morton was solid until his final two innings, when he surrendered five hits and two walks. After retiring nine of 11, Morton faced eight Nationals hitters in the fourth frame. He allowed three runs, including Josh Bell’s two-run blast. Overall, Morton allowed three runs on six hits, striking out six and walking three.

“Those fourth and fifth innings were not good,” Morton said. “Especially considering how I was throwing the ball earlier. I felt like I was throwing the ball well. Then I just got out of it. I got out of my rhythm and delivery and never really got back into it. It was a grind for those two innings.”

It wasn’t Morton’s best, but he did enough to preserve the Braves’ early lead.

“It was nice today,” Morton said of the win. “The ceremony before the game (for Memorial Day), the fans are out here. To take that early lead, luckily I didn’t give up all of our lead, and then to add onto it. It was a good win. It was a good way to win. I’m just hoping we take some momentum into that Dodgers series (this weekend), too.”

3. Outfielder Ronald Acuna smashed an opposite-field solo shot off Ross in the second inning. It was his 16th homer, tying him with Fernando Tatis (Padres), Vladimir Guerrero (Blue Jays) and Adolis Garcia (Rangers) for the major-league lead. Acuna didn’t do his usual side step at third base during his home-run trot, saying “I honestly just forgot.”

As for the home run leaderboard, which Acuna has been at or near the top of throughout the season, the 23-year-old said (via team interpreter Franco Garcia): “I try not to think about it. I’m not focused on it. I just try to go out there and play my game and try to help the team in any way I can.”

4. Veteran Abraham Almonte, promoted from Triple-A earlier in the day, started in left field and hit sixth. He went 0-for-2 with two walks. Given the state of the Braves’ outfield, Almonte will have ample chances to earn more playing time.

5. The Nationals are a last-place team and sinking lower, partly thanks to the Braves, who moved to 6-1 against Washington this season. The Braves were 6-4 against the Nationals during the shortened 2020 campaign. They’re trying to win the season series over Washington for the fourth consecutive season.

Braves 5, Nationals 3 (box score)

Stat to know

13-12 (The Braves finished May with a winning record.)

Quotable

“I feel a lot better now.” - Snitker said, jokingly, when informed the team finished May with a winning record.

Up next

The Braves and Nationals play the second contest of their four-game series Tuesday. Braves lefty Max Fried (2-2, 4.63) faces Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 4.43).