Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 8/16/13
Braves pitchers have throttled Washington hitters for nearly a calendar year now an impressive run that continued unabated Friday when rising rookie Alex Wood faced the Nationals for the first time. But after the left-hander allowed only five hits and one run with nine strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings things got real interesting in the series opener at Turner Field which ended when Justin Upton hit a game-winning homer with one out in the 10th for a 3-2 Braves win their 18th in 20 games. “It’s a great feeling when you can go out and win the ballgame for your team” said Upton who hit his second walk-off homer this season. “There’s nothing better than that.” He homered on a 2-2 pitch by left-hander Ian Krol the third walk-off homer of his career and his third homer in four games against the Nationals over the past 12 days Braves reliever Luis Avilan hit Bryce Harper in the back with a fastball with two outs and a runner on second in the eighth inning the second time Harper was hit Friday after the young Nationals slugger also was hit Aug. 6 in Washington during the Braves’ three-game sweep. That incident at Nationals Park caused a benches- and bullpens-clearing incident along with some words exchanged between Harper and pitcher Julio Teheran although no physical contact between any opposing players. The benches didn’t clear either time he was hit Friday and Harper didn’t do anything more than take his base after being hit by a breaking pitch from Wood in the fourth inning or Avilan’s 91-mph fastball. Avilan already had given up a two-out double to Ryan Zimmerman in the eighth and was replaced after hitting Harper. Reliever Luis Ayala gave up an RBI single to Jayson Werth that made the score 2-2 and snapped Avilan’s string of 35 consecutive appearances without being charged with an earned run. Home-plate umpire Marty Foster warned both benches after the second incident. Harper gathered himself and after bending over to let the sting subside and catch his breath went to first base. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez replaced Avilan who got a loud ovation from a crowd of 35663 when he came off the field. In both situations the circumstances made it unlikely that either pitch was thrown intentionally to hit Harper but he couldn’t have been blamed if he had shown a little more agitation. After Wood hit Harper with a curveball to start the fourth Werth singled and Harper scored when Ian Desmond grounded into a double play cutting the Braves’ lead to 2-1.
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