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Banuelos tagged early for Atlanta Braves in 8-4 loss to Nationals
0907Braves
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Manny Banuelos holds his face in this hand after he was relieved during the third inning of Sunday's game against the Washington Nationals in Washington. - photo by Alex Brandon

Braves at Phillies

When: 7:05 tonight

Where: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia

On TV: Sports South

Atlanta’s A.J. Pierzynski has been catching in the majors for 16 years and never had to deal with anything like what the Braves are going through.

Sunday’s 8-4 loss to Washington was Atlanta’s 12th straight, it’s longest in 27 years.

“Never seen anything like this,” Pierzynski said, shaking his head in disgust. “Just keep battling, come (to the park) tomorrow and try and win.”

The Braves (54-83) lost all 10 games in Washington this year, the first time since 1990 that they’ve been swept by a division foe on the road.

Nick Swisher singled in Nick Markakis in the first to give the Braves the lead, but the Nationals responded with five runs in the second and two more in the third. Atlanta was never within three runs again.

“We’ve gotten a lot of people on base throughout this losing streak,” said Braves manager Freddi Gonzalez. “But you gotta have somebody drive them in and we haven’t had that person. (And) today we played sloppy.”

The Braves didn’t help themselves with three errors.

Michael Taylor put Washington ahead to stay with a two-run double in the second. Pitcher Joe Ross was hit by loser Manny Banuelos (1-4) with two out, and Jayson Werth followed with a drive to left for his seventh homer.

Werth is hitting .329 (23 for 70) with four homers and 10 RBIs since moving into the leadoff spot 17 games ago.

Bryce Harper opened the third with a drive to center on an 0-2 pitch for his 34th homer of the season. The All-Star slugger was 7-for-11 and scored nine times in the four-game set against Atlanta.

“I’m glad my dad doesn’t speak English (so) he can’t listen to this interview,” Gonzalez said. “But I’m sure he’s watching games at home and going, ‘How many (big hits) on 0-2 pitches are you going to give up? ‘ “

Michael Bourn singled in Swisher in the fourth, but Anthony Rendon homered in the bottom half for Washington.

Five Washington relievers combined for 4 2-3 innings of two-hit ball, with Felipe Rivero (2-1) picking up the win.

Washington expects to pitch Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg, all of whom have been All-Stars, against New York. Jonathon Niese goes Monday for the Mets who’ll follow with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom.

“We got a big series coming up,” Werth said. “We’re just going to keep grinding ‘em out. I’ve been saying all along at some point we’re going to make to make a run. Hopefully this is it. We’ve got our (top) guys going (against the Mets).

We’re definitely going to need to score some runs and do the little things.”

Werth was at bat in the eighth when he noticed on the scoreboard that Miami had the bases loaded with the score tied in the ninth against New York. After he flied out, he went into the clubhouse to see the Marlins win against ex-teammate Tyler Clippard.

“We’re going to need stuff like that,” said Werth, who won a World Series with Philadelphia. “We’re going to need other teams to help us out. In the end, it’s going to come down to us, but to win, you gotta be good and you gotta get lucky.”

ZIM RESTS
Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman, who is batting .439 with six home runs and 18 RBIs during his 10-game hitting streak, got the day off. Tyler Moore filled in at first base.

AN ATLANTA RARITY
The Braves will finish below .500 for a second straight season for the first time since 1989 and 1990.

TRAINER’S ROOM
Braves: 3B Hector Olivera was scratched with a bruised left foot. Adonis Garcia was inserted into the lineup.

Nationals: RHP Strasburg threw a bullpen session and is expected to return to the rotation on Wednesday after missing his last start with a back injury.

UP NEXT
Braves: RHP Williams Perez (4-6, 5.65 ERA) opens a three-game series in Philadelphia against Phillies RHP Aaron Harang (5-14, 4.89 ERA). Atlanta has lost all eight of Perez’s starts since June 20.

Nationals: Scherzer (11-11, 2.89 ERA) is 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA in his last six starts.

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