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Braves take unconventional win over Nationals

ATLANTA — Pinch-runner Jeff Baker scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning when reliever Ryan Mattheus hit Andrelton Simmons' uniform with a bases-loaded pitch that helped the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-4 on Saturday.

Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman homered for the Braves, who have won the first two games in the series and nine of 13.

Atlanta moved within 6½ games of first-place Washington in the NL East. The Braves began the game with a seven-game lead over third-place Los Angeles in the NL wild-card race.

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel earned his 36th save in 39 ties after striking out the side.

Eric O'Flaherty (3-0) faced the minimum in the eighth for Atlanta, extending his scoreless innings streak to 19 1-3 innings, a span of 22 games.

Mattheus (5-2) allowed one hit, one walk, two walks and no strikeouts.