ATLANTA (AP)—Jason Marquis picked up a milestone victory against a familiar team.
Laynce Nix and Jayson Werth hit three-run homers for Washington to send Marquis to his 100th career win, though the Nationals had to hold on at the end for the 7-6 triumph after Atlanta nearly wiped out a big lead Tuesday night.
Trailing 7-1, the Braves scored five times in the eighth off Marquis and two relievers. Pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad hit one to the wall in the ninth that was hauled in just a few feet short of a tying homer.
Marquis (4-1) gave up seven hits and three runs in 7 1/3 innings to improve his career mark to 100-93. The 32-year-old beat his original team, picking up his first 14 wins with the Braves from 2000-03.
“It was exciting, obviously, that I got 100 here,” he said. “It’s definitely a special part of my career. Who would have ever thought when I first broke in that I’d get to this point? But I guess a lot of hard work and good fortune with health has allowed me to do that.”
Dan Uggla capped Atlanta’s big eighth with a three-run homer, but Drew Storen got the final three outs — barely — for his eighth save in eight chances.
“The way we came back makes me feel good about this ballclub,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Atlanta’s Tim Hudson lasted only five innings, his shortest stint of the season, after tossing a one-hit shutout against Milwaukee in his previous start.
Hudson had allowed only one homer all season before the Nationals took him deep twice. But the Braves starter certainly didn’t get much help from his defense, which committed two errors and had two other miscues that were generously ruled hits. Four of the seven runs off Hudson were unearned.
“Huddy pitched well,” said Nate McLouth, who made perhaps the most crucial error when he dropped a flyball in the fourth. “He didn’t deserve that. That ball I dropped, there’s no excuses.”
Nix took advantage of McLouth’s error with a homer that pushed the Nationals to a 4-0 lead. Werth, off to a slow start after signing a $126 million contract over the winter, appeared to put it out of reach with another three-run shot in the fifth.
But the Braves almost pulled it out. Eric Hinske and Chipper Jones had run-scoring hits in the eighth before Uggla drove one out in left-center off Tyler Clippard.
“It was a little scary there,” Washington manager Jim Riggleman said.
Early on, the Braves played some frightening defense.
Roger Bernadina led off the game with soft roller to first that was scooped up by Freddie Freeman. The normally sure-handed fielder started trotting toward the bag — and inexplicably dropped the ball before he got there for an error. After Bernadina stole second, Ian Desmond hit a grounder up the middle that was bobbled by shortstop Diory Hernandez, filling in for ailing Alex Gonzalez. It was ruled a hit but just as easily could’ve been Atlanta’s second error of the inning.
Werth grounded into a double play to bring home Washington’s first run.
Hudson cruised into the fourth, still having allowed only the one questionable hit, and retired the first two batters. Then, more defensive problems.
Adam LaRoche hit a tricky grounder toward first that ricocheted off Freeman attempting a backhanded scoop. Originally called an error, it was changed to a hit. But Freeman’s disgusted reaction made it clear he should’ve made the grab. Wilson Ramos followed with a flyball to right-center that gave Atlanta a second chance at the third out.
McLouth called for the ball running over from center, then took a peak at Jason Heyward running over from right. Perhaps he was mindful of a collision the two had last year that left the much-smaller McLouth with a concussion. Whatever the case, the ball caromed off McLouth’s glove for an error, extending the inning.
This time, the Nationals really made Atlanta pay. Nix drove a low fastball deep into the right-field seats for his fourth homer of the season.
“I took my eye off the ball to see where Heyward was,” McLouth conceded. “I just took it for granted that I was going to catch it.”
The Braves picked up their first hit off Marquis in the bottom half, Martin Prado leading off with his fourth homer to make it 4-1. Werth canceled that out — and then some — with his drive over the left-field wall in the fifth, another big two-out hit for the Nationals.
“A month ago, I would have swung and missed,” Werth said. “Two weeks ago, I probably would have hit it foul. A week ago, I would have hit it to the third baseman.”
This time, he hit it out.
NOTES: Gonzalez sat out after tweaking his left hamstring Sunday. He said the injury is “nothing to worry about” and he could be back as soon as Wednesday. ... Nix started for the Nationals because Mike Morse has a tender knee. Riggleman said he went with Nix mainly because he could cover more ground defensively, but he came up huge on offense. ... Braves RHP Derek Lowe threw his normal side session with no problems. He came out of his last start with a large blister, but plans to make his next scheduled start Thursday in the series finale against the Nationals. ... Freeman did make a nifty catch over his shoulder, but it was generally a miserable night for the rookie. In the seventh, he was thrown out inexplicably trying to stretch a single into a double with his team down by six runs.