Braves offense goes flat again during weekend

WASHINGTON — Just when it looked as if the Braves' offense was turning a corner toward better consistency and solid production from more than one or two hitters at any given time, they went flat during two weekend losses against the rival Nationals.

The Braves had nine hits and one run in two games, and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position in Saturday’s 3-0 loss and 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position in Sunday’s 4-1 defeat.

They’ve lost 12 of 19 games and scored three runs or fewer 10 times in that stretch. But Braves players and manager Fredi Gonzalez insisted Sunday that the weekend hadn’t been a big setback after some recent offensive progress.

“They had two pretty good performances out of their starting pitchers, (Doug) Fister last night and (Tanner) Roark today,” Gonzalez said. “We didn’t get anything going. Got one run in two games. We had some people on base, just couldn’t punch them through.”

Braves third baseman Chris Johnson, who was ejected Sunday after arguing that he checked his swing on a third strike with two on in the sixth inning, said the four-game split against the Nationals wasn’t a big disappointment.

“They’re a good ballclub, playing in their park, so coming here for a four-game set and taking two games, we can’t be too upset with that,” he said. “After taking the first two you would’ve liked to squeeze one more (win) in there, but you’ve got to give them credit.

“Their pitchers, Roark and Fister, did a good job shutting us down and getting those two wins on the back end. But taking two out of four at their place, against a really good ballclub, we’ll take it and move on.”

The Braves had as many hits (nine) in six innings against Nationals marquee starter Stephen Strasburg on Friday as they had in the last two games combined.

“Playing against a team that’s been playing really good baseball, in their own park, and we came out and beat two good pitchers,” right fielder Jason Heyward said, referring to wins in games started by Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. “The next two guys in their rotation threw two good games. That’s kind of the bottom line there.”

Gonzalez added, “I thought Fister was pretty sharp yesterday. You’ve got to tip your hat, he had some stuff going yesterday. And today we had some opportunities and we didn’t punch runners through. But our pitching kept us in the game the last couple of games. So, off day tomorrow and go to Houston and maybe get our bats going.”