Braves take series in Washington to wrap up 4-2 NL East trip

Mike Soroka delivers a pitch during Wednesday's game against the Nationals in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

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Mike Soroka delivers a pitch during Wednesday's game against the Nationals in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

The Braves embarked on a pivotal six-game road trip in the National League East last weekend. They came out of it 4-2, taking series from the two teams trying to keep pace.

Wednesday’s 5-4 win in Washington sealed what can only be considered a resoundingly successful trip. The Braves lost only two games, falling to Phillies ace Aaron Nola and Nationals frontline lefty Patrick Corbin. They hold a 6.5 game lead over both the Phillies and Nationals in the division.

As time winded down to the trade deadline, the Braves butchered a 4-2 ninth-inning lead. Johan Camargo couldn’t come up with a likely fielder’s choice, putting two on and none out. Closer Luke Jackson was replaced by Sean Newcomb.

Newcomb allowed a single but coaxed a double play that helped keep the game tied at 4-4.

Josh Donaldson pounded a home run to center in the 10th that’d prove the game-winner.

It avoided a potentially horrid result in which the Braves would’ve squandered a key game against their biggest rival. Instead they head home thrilled with a 4-2 trip.

And they did it with help from Adam Duvall, who's hit four homers since replacing the injured Nick Markakis. They did it with help from Ender Inciarte, the all-defense no-bat outfielder who's rediscovered his offense. The Braves' bats, which were quieted in a pair of home losses to Kansas City last week, were rejuvenated quickly.

Anibal Sanchez allowed four runs on 10 hits Wednesday, with the Braves chasing him after five innings. Duvall took him deep, giving him three homers in two nights, and Ozzie Albies, Tyler Flowers and Ronald Acuna knocked in runs.

It was a memorable afternoon for Acuna, who joined the 25-25 club with a stolen base in the fourth inning. Acuna is one of six Braves to hit 25 homers and steal 25 bases in the same season. He leads the National League in the latter department.

Mike Soroka allowed one run — a Juan Soto homer — over seven innings, throwing 93 pitches on a hot and humid afternoon in the nation’s capital. Soroka lowered his ERA to 2.37, second lowest in the National League.

The past two series meant more to the Phillies and Nationals than they did the Braves. Both teams have been desperately trying to climb back into the NL East. Instead, the Braves went into their cities and took series from both, well-establishing themselves as the favorites.

Outside a clean sweep, this was the Braves’ best scenario. They knocked six games off the calendar while pushing each further back. They have one home-and-road set remaining with both teams, including another Philadelphia-Washington trip in mid-September.

The Braves open a four-game homestand with the Reds beginning Thursday. It’s not official, but Trevor Bauer, who was traded to the Reds Tuesday, could make his first start with his new team sometime this weekend. The Braves will travel to Minnesota and Miami after their brief stop at SunTrust Park.

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