Monday, July 29, 2019

Nationals manager Dave Martinez was even impressed when Anthony Rendon made an error Monday night.

But it was his red-hot bat that had teammates struggling for adjectives after the soft-spoken third baseman hit a grand slam in the sixth inning of a pulsating 6-3 victory at Nationals Park over the first-place Atlanta Braves.

“He just ran around the bases like nothing happened,” Washington starting pitcher Patrick Corbin said of Rendon. After Rendon slipped into the first-base dugout he took a curtain call from the crowd of 24,292 that saw the Nationals pull within 4½ games of the Braves in the National League East.

“One of the best players in the league,” Washington catcher Yan Gomes said of Rendon.

Rendon (2-for-5), no slouch with the glove either, made a nice stop on a hard shot off the bat of Atlanta’s Johan Camargo in the fourth inning.

Even though he made a bad throw to first that allowed a run to score, Martinez was impressed with the stop down the third-base line that Rendon made.

“Unbelievable. I don’t think too many people make that play. I thought it was a double,” Martinez said.

Then Rendon came to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth facing Atlanta reliever Chad Sobotka and hit a 2-0 fastball over the fence in left field.

“His hands are so quick,” Martinez said. “He puts himself in a situation to hit. That was exciting. It was a wow moment.”

Corbin allowed two runs in six innings to get the victory. Closer Sean Doolittle pitched the ninth in a non-save situation and gave up a solo homer to Charlie Culberson before recording the final out. Corbin had eight strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 3.23 on a day the Nationals learned Max Scherzer was headed to the injured list, and a day after Stephen Strasburg’s 14th win.

“They are a good team,” Corbin said of the Braves. “You try to minimize damage; tonight we were able to do that. I threw better sliders today than last time I faced them. We froze a couple of guys inside with the fastball.”

Rendon now has 23 homers and 80 RBIs this season and is hitting .318. He has 500 RBIs in his career, with three grand slams, and he has hit safely in 17 of his last 19 games.

“You don’t see a whole lot of emotion,” Martinez said of Rendon. But the results speak for themselves.

Howie Kendrick had two hits for Washington and left fielder Juan Soto had a hit, two walks and made a nice catch near the fence in left field in the sixth inning. Wander Suero and Fernando Rodney each pitched a scoreless inning out of the bullpen for Washington.

That was much needed, as the Nationals entered the game with a 6.04 ERA among its relievers.

For now starters such as Corbin are doing their job.

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