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Braves fall to Nationals, 4-3, in extra-inning affair on opening day
Washington Nationals' Jayson Werth, left, scores the game-tying run on a sacrifice fly by Michael Taylor as the ball gets past Atlanta Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the ninth inning Monday in Atlanta. - photo by John Bazemore

ATLANTA — Gordon Beckham and the Atlanta Braves threw away chances to win their opener.

Jason Grilli couldn’t hold a one-run lead in the ninth inning and Beckham’s throwing error set up Daniel Murphy’s run-scoring double in the 10th that sent the Washington Nationals to a 4-3 victory Monday.

“You let a good team hang around and they end up scoring a run,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

New shortstop Erick Aybar also had a throwing error in his Atlanta debut as the Braves wasted a solid start by Julio Teheran, who allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.

“I did everything that I could to keep my team in the game,” Teheran said, adding he made “a couple mistakes” on homers by Murphy and Bryce Harper.

“But I felt really good,” Teheran added.

Freddie Freeman and Adonis Garcia homered against Washington ace Max Scherzer.

The Braves took a 3-2 lead in the eighth. Washington’s Shawn Kelley, who replaced Felipe Rivero with the bases loaded, threw four straight balls to Garcia to force in a run.

Washington got even in the ninth on Michael Taylor’s sacrifice fly to shallow center field. Atlanta nearly escaped with a game-ending double play, but Jayson Werth scored when catcher A.J. Pierzynski dropped Ender Inciarte’s accurate throw that beat Werth to the plate.

“It was a tough play at the plate there, you know?” said Gonzalez, a former catcher. “First of all you’ve got to get a good throw and you’ve got to make a great tag and it’s tough. It’s not as easy as you think.”

Murphy’s one-out double to left off Eric O’Flaherty (0-1) drove in Ryan Zimmerman from second base in the 10th.

Zimmerman reached on a two-base throwing error by Beckham, playing second base after walking as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.

Blake Treinen (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth for Washington. Jonathan Papelbon got three straight outs for the save.

Murphy was a huge hit in his debut for the Nationals, who made a winner of Dusty Baker in his first game as their manager.

Baseball’s new “Chase Utley Rule” cost the Braves a baserunner after Nick Markakis walked in the seventh. On Hector Olivera’s grounder to third, Markakis slid wide of second base, upending Murphy, whose throw to first was late.

Olivera was ruled out at first for a double play because the slide by Markakis took him too far inside the bag.

Gonzalez briefly emerged from the dugout but didn’t argue the call.

“You’re splitting hairs,” he said. “He slid past the bag a little bit and kind of rolled. They want you to just slide into the bag.”


The Braves opened their 20th and final season at Turner Field. They will move into new SunTrust Park in suburban Atlanta next season.

Former manager Bobby Cox and members of the 1997 team that opened Turner Field rode around the field in a pregame parade. Among former players returning for the day were Fred McGriff, Javy Lopez, Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones.


Nationals: Taylor replaced CF Ben Revere to open the fifth inning. Baker said Revere had discomfort in his ribs on a swing. “We think that he’s OK,” Baker said.

Braves: Now that Freeman’s right wrist appears to be pain-free, Gonzalez said he wants to protect him with an occasional day off. Gonzalez acknowledged it won’t be easy. “He can ask all he wants, but he can’t force me out of the lineup,” Freeman said with a laugh.


Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg will try to improve his unimpressive career numbers against Atlanta on Wednesday in the second game of the series. Strasburg is 6-7 with a 3.77 ERA in 19 career starts against the Braves, including a 3-3 mark and 4.79 ERA in nine starts at Turner Field.

Braves: RHP Bud Norris, who won 15 games for Baltimore in 2014, will try to move past a disappointing 3-11 record with the Orioles and Padres in 2015 when he makes his debut with Atlanta. Norris was 1-3 with a 6.46 ERA in six spring starts.

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