Anthony Rendon, bullpen lead Nationals over Braves 10-5

WASHINGTON (AP) - Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon won't be going to the All-Star game.

He showed again on Sunday how important he is to Washington.

Rendon reached base four times, the Washington bullpen allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings, and the Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 10-5.

"Anthony's our foundation, man," manager Dusty Baker said. "You need a base hit to right, you need a homer, you need a RBI, whatever it is you need, Anthony is usually the guy that comes through."

Rendon scored twice and drove in a pair as the Nationals salvaged a split of the four-game series with the Braves to enter the All-Star break with a 9 ?-game lead over Atlanta in the National League East.

"As a lineup, I think we've done a great job of extending innings, and battling," Bryce Harper said of the first half. "One through eight we're pretty tough to get out, so if we can keep that going we'll be okay."

Washington starter Joe Ross left the game with one out in the fourth. Baker said Ross was experiencing triceps tenderness and was undergoing an MRI.

Reliever Matt Grace (1-0) allowed two runs, one earned, over 2 2/3 innings. Joe Blanton, Enny Romero and Matt Albers each threw a scoreless inning.

With Washington up 6-5, Rendon provided an insurance run in the seventh. He walked, stole second and went to third on a throwing error by catcher Tyler Flowers. Rendon scored on a Matt Wieters' sacrifice fly.

The Nationals pulled away with three runs in the eighth.

Atlanta's Johan Camargo had three hits, including a solo home run -- his first in the majors -- and a walk. Freddie Freeman added a three-run homer and a single for Atlanta, which ended the first half by winning 13 of 21.

"A lot of good things happening," manager Brian Snitker said. "Record could have been better. We shot ourselves in the foot a few games to where I think very realistically we could have been over .500 for this half."

Chris Heisey's RBI-double broke a 3-3 tie in the fourth and Wieters smacked a two-run single in the fifth.

Camargo's homer and a Nick Markakis fielder's choice pulled Atlanta within 6-5.

After Ross got Markakis to start the fourth, pitching coach Mike Maddux came out to the mound and was soon joined by the team trainer. Baker then removed Ross in favor of Grace.

"We saw his velocity was like 89, 88 and then Mike saw something and we decided to take Joe out," Baker said.

Ross allowed three runs on three hits over 3 1/3 innings.

Washington led 3-0 when he issued a pair of two-out walks in the third and Freeman followed with his 16th homer of the season.

Atlanta rookie Sean Newcomb (1-4) allowed four runs on four hits over four innings.

Rendon's two-run double capped a three-run Washington first as Newcomb threw 39 pitches.


Freeman extended his hitting streak at Nationals Park to 10 games. He's 16-for-42 (.381) with four home runs, 15 RBIs and 11 runs scored during the streak.


In his last 14 games, Harper is hitting .412 (21-for-51) with five doubles, two homers, nine RBIs, 12 walks and 12 runs scored.


Braves: INF/OF Sean Rodriguez (left rotator cuff surgery) went 1 for 3 with a walk in his second rehab assignment for Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday. . Snitker said reliever Jason Motte felt back strain while warming up in the bullpen during Sunday's game. "Doctors looked at him, everything is structurally good," Snitker said. "We'll see when he works out on Thursday where he's at."

Nationals: Baker said RHP Stephen Strasburg was 'fine' one day after being hit on his hip by a Markakis line drive in the third inning on Saturday.


Braves: Following the All-Star break, they open a three-game series against the Diamondbacks Friday in Atlanta.

Nationals: Begin a three-game series Friday in Cincinnati.