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Braves drop another one-run game
Atlanta Braves pitcher Manny Acosta reacts to loading the bases in the 12th inning against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday in Washington. The Nationals won 3-2. - photo by The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Atlanta Braves simply cannot win a one-run game.

Felipe Lopez’s bases-loaded hit to left with no outs in the 12th lifted the Washington Nationals to a 3-2 victory over the Braves on Wednesday, dropping Atlanta to 0-9 in games decided by the slimmest possible margin.

The Braves are the first team since the 2000 Houston Astros to lose their first nine one-run games.

The Nationals, meanwhile, have their first three-game winning streak since opening the season 3-0. They fell behind 2-1 in the 12th on Mark Kotsay’s RBI single off Saul Rivera (3-1), who nonetheless earned the win with two innings of relief.

The loss went to Manny Acosta (0-1), who came in to start the 10th. He loaded the bases in the 12th with no outs.

Austin Kearns walked, Willie Harris singled off first baseman Martin Prado’s glove, and Wil Nieves laid down a sacrifice bunt that Acosta let get past him for a fielding error.

Acosta then walked pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard to force in the tying run. Buddy Carlyle replaced Acosta and gave up Lopez’s game-ender.

It was a tough way for Atlanta to have its first four-game losing streak since July 25-28.

Then again, Acosta barely got through the 10th, when the Nationals loaded the bases with one out with two four-pitch walks and a single. But Acosta got Lopez to ground into a 1-2-3 double play.

Starters Shawn Hill of Washington and Jair Jurrjens of Atlanta had nearly identical lines. Hill made his third start of the season and lasted more than five innings for the first time, giving up one run and four hits over eight innings. Jurrjens allowed one run and only two hits in his seven innings.

Atlanta had a chance to go up in the second inning, when Nationals center fielder Lastings Milledge charged Kotsay’s sinking liner but dropped the ball on what was ruled a double. Manager Manny Acta trudged all the way from the dugout to center to check on Milledge, who stayed on the turf for a while but remained in the game.

Kotsay reached third on a fly out, but then was tagged out on an apparent suicide squeeze attempt when Jurrjens couldn’t bunt an outside pitch.

The Braves went up 1-0 in the sixth when Gregor Blanco doubled, then came home on Yunel Escobar’s blooper.

Washington tied it in the sixth. Rob Mackowiak led off with a double for only his second hit this season, and took third on Hill’s sacrifice. Lopez hit a grounder, and first baseman Mark Teixeira’s throw home beat Mackowiak. But the ball was on the first-base side of the plate and Mackowiak slid in ahead of catcher McCann’s tag.

Notes: Braves RHP Jeff Bennett, who faced one batter in the ninth, was visited by manager Bobby Cox and a trainer after his nose began bleeding while he was on the mound. ... CF Kotsay made a sliding catch of Johnny Estrada’s sinking liner leading off the eighth. ... Atlanta was the first team since the 2002 Colorado Rockies to lose their first eight one-run games. ... Nationals reliever Chad Cordero is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks with a tear in a muscle below his pitching shoulder. Cordero left Washington’s 6-3 victory over Atlanta on Tuesday night when he felt pain while throwing a pitch in the ninth inning. ... Asked whether RHP John Smoltz could go back to being a closer when he comes off the DL, Cox said: “We are always thinking about it.” Cox also said: “I like him as a starter.” ... Atlanta LHP Mike Hampton left a rehab start at Triple-A Richmond in the fourth inning when he was bothered by his injured chest muscle.

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