Sean Newcomb pitched seven strong innings for his sixth straight win, leading the Atlanta Braves back into first place with a 4-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday night.
In the start of a four-game series between the top teams in the NL East, the Braves snapped Washington's six-game winning streak and reclaimed first place by a half-game over the Nationals.
Newcomb (6-1) was roughed up by the Nationals in his season debut April 2. Since then, he's 6-0 with a sparkling 2.16 ERA in 10 starts.
Anthony Rendon drove in in both Washington runs with a sacrifice fly in the first and an RBI single in the third. Newcomb was dominant the rest of the way, retiring 14 of 15 hitters before he was lifted for a pinch hitter after a 1-2-3 seventh. He threw 93 pitches -- 61 for strikes.
Rendon, who led off the sixth with a double, was the only Nationals hitter to reach base off Newcomb after the third. He also made a sparkling defensive play at third base to rob Tyler Flowers of a hit, diving to his left to field a hard-hit grounder that took a wicked hop.
The Braves went ahead for good in the bottom of the third off Tanner Roark (2-5). Ozzie Albies led off with a single and Freddie Freeman followed with a double into the right-field corner, giving him a 13-game hitting streak. Bryce Harper's throw back to the infield short-hopped Trea Turner, an error that allowed Albies to race home after he initially stopped at third.
Atlanta tacked on an insurance run in the seventh. With two outs, Ender Inciarte singled to left and came all the way around to score when Albies yanked another double down the right-field line.
Dan Winkler and Arodys Vizcaino finished up for the Braves, each throwing a scoreless inning. Vizcaino earned his 10th save in 12 chances.
Roark went 6 2/3 innings, giving up all four Atlanta runs and struggling a bit with his command. He walked five (two intentionally) and plunked a batter.
Turner extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games.
Nationals: RHP Ryan Madson was activated from the disabled list after missing 12 games with a pectoral strain. The 37-year-old reliever is 1-2 with three saves and a 4.19 ERA in 21 appearances. The team gave Madson the option of going to the minor leagues for a rehab stint. He decided to rejoin the Nationals as soon as he was healthy. "He wanted to save his bullets" for big league hitters, manager Dave Martinez said.
Braves: OF Ronald Acuna Jr. seems to be recovering quickly after injuring his left knee and lower back during a game last Sunday at Boston. The 20-year-old rookie phenom would be eligible to come off the DL on June 8 when Atlanta is on a West Coast road trip, but the Braves are in no rush to get their top prospect back on the field. "He's going to heal quick," manager Brian Snitker said. "He'll probably tell you, `I can go out there and play right now.' But we're going to be careful to get rid of all the pain, make sure everything is tightened up and solid."
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-4, 3.13) probably hates to see the calendar change. He went 4-1 with a 2.51 ERA in five May starts, allowing just 26 hits while striking out 40 in 32 1/3 innings.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (4-3, 2.55) will be facing Washington for the third time this season. He is 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings against the Nationals.