WASHINGTON (AP) — In extra innings, with a chance to reclaim first place in the NL East, Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez gave two pitchers their major league debuts.
Welcome to the big time, Juan Jaime and Ryan Buchter.
"Perfect scenario to bring 'em in," Gonzalez said with a smile. "Those are big innings. We always talk when we bring 'em up, 'How are you going to use them?' 'What's the situation?' Well, today was an extra-inning game against your division rival. You're going to have to use them sooner or later."
Jaime pitched a scoreless 11th inning and Buchter handled the 12th. Each allowed a walk but no further damage, and Buchter (1-0) got the win when the Braves scored a pair in the 13th Friday in a 6-4 victory over the Washington Nationals that flip-flopped the standings atop the NL East.
"You've got to test it out sometime, you know," said Buchter, with the game ball safely nestled in his glove in his locker. "It's a good chance to get experience."
The win moved the Braves back into first place by one-half game and maintained their mastery over their division rivals. Atlanta was struggling before arriving in D.C. this week, but the club is 20-7 vs. Washington since the start of last season, including the first two of this four-game set.
Evan Gattis, who earlier extended his hitting streak to 19 games, singled in the go-ahead run in the 13th off Jerry Blevins (2-3). Andrelton Simmons followed with an RBI groundout that might have been an inning-ending double play had second baseman Danny Espinosa not bobbled the ball.
Jordan Walden worked the 13th for his second save, long after Craig Kimbrel blew a save for the fourth time this season.
With the Nationals down to their last out in the ninth, Anthony Rendon tied the score when he got every bit of a 98 mph fastball from Kimbrel, the first homer allowed by the Braves closer in 2014.
The umpires initially ruled Rendon's hit a double, but a replay review clearly showed the ball striking the top of the barrier next to the visitor's bullpen beyond the outfield fence.
"This game changes on one swing sometimes," Washington manager Matt Williams said. "That could've been the one swing, but it turns it out it wasn't. So we have to be ready to go tomorrow and put this one behind us like we always do. We got two more against these guys and a whole bunch of games left. We have to have short memories."
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