Peter Bourjos began the game on the bench for the Atlanta Braves. Didn't get in until the seventh inning. He made quite a contribution, nonetheless.
Bourjos threw out a runner at the plate shortly after taking over in left field, then drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the 12th. Atlanta's bullpen finally made a lead stand up, helping the Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-3 Wednesday after starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy left with a hurting left shoulder.
"He's the player of the game and gets a little cameo at the end," Braves manager Brian Snitker said about Bourjos. "Good for him. Both were huge plays."
There were many of those on a lengthy afternoon. Two homers by Atlanta catcher Kurt Suzuki (who used to play in Washington), in the fourth and 11th innings. A failed steal of home by Ender Inciarte with Suzuki batting to end the 10th. Two blowns saves by Braves relievers, including when Arodys Vizcaino allowed Matt Adams' tying homer in the bottom of the ninth.
The good news for Atlanta, aside from the victory, was that McCarthy and Snitker both said they expect the righty to be able to make his next start.
McCarthy's shoulder was popped back in its socket on the field by a trainer.
"One of those weird things," the skipper said. "He was fine when he came back in."
Snitker used two words to describe this victory, which allowed his club to avoid a three-game sweep: "satisfying" and "draining."
So try to imagine how the Nationals felt after rallying from deficits of 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth and 3-2 going into their half of the 11th.
Bourjos delivered the go-ahead hit off Ryan Madson (0-1) with one out in the 12th. Madson, working for the fourth time in five days, began what he termed "a hectic inning" by allowing consecutive singles and a walk.
"Doesn't feel like the ball's as clean coming out, maybe. Doesn't feel like you have the zip. Might be a little flat. Maybe a little bit easier for the hitter to see," Madson said of what can happen with a heavy workload. "But I'm not blaming any of that."
Rookie Shane Carle (2-1), Atlanta's seventh pitcher, threw the last two innings for the win. He blew a save chance in the 11th, giving up Howie Kendrick's two-out double to make it 3-all.
Bourjos entered in left as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the seventh and ended that inning by throwing out Adams as he tried to score from second.
Adams' take? "I'm not the fastest guy out there."
Nationals manager Dave Martinez had no issue with third base coach Bob Henley's send of Adams, saying: "I trust Bobby over there at third base. I really do."
In the 10th, with Nationals closer Sean Doolittle on the mound, Inciarte walked, stole second, moved to third on a double steal and then tried to complete his trip around the bases with another swipe. But on this one, Doolittle heard third baseman Anthony Rendon and catcher Pedro Severino alerting him to what was going on and threw home in time for Severino to make the tag.
"I knew exactly what they were yelling about," Doolittle said.
The umpire's call of out stood after a replay review.
"It was (Inciarte's) decision (to go) and it looked pretty good," Snitker said. "I thought he was safe."
McCarthy (one run, four hits) departed after recording the last out of the fifth by stretching out his left arm to catch a throw to first base on a groundout. He spent more than a month on the disabled list last season after dislocating his left shoulder with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Nationals righty A.J. Cole gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Nationals: 2B Daniel Murphy (offseason knee surgery) could be nearing a rehab assignment at extended spring training in Florida "in the next week or so," manager Dave Martinez said.
Braves: After Thursday's off day, begin a three-game set at the Chicago Cubs on Friday. RHP Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 2.25 ERA) will start the opener for Atlanta against RHP Yu Darvish (0-0, 5.23).
Nationals: Open a four-game series against the visiting Rockies on Thursday, with LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 1.59 ERA) facing Colorado RHP Chad Bettis (1-0, 2.53). Gonzalez is 4-0 in five career starts against the Rockies.
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