WASHINGTON (AP) — Dansby Swanson homered for the third straight game and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 6-5 Sunday to sweep the series.
Swanson hit a two-run drive to center to increase the Braves’ lead to 3-0 in the third. It was his 24th home run of the season, a total that includes two from Saturday and another Friday for four of Atlanta’s 11 homers in the three-game set.
“I don’t say anything to him,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said when asked what advice he’s been giving Swanson during this hot streak. “I don’t want to screw it up.”
The Braves have won a franchise-best eight straight games in Washington and 10 of 12 overall. They pulled a game ahead of Philadelphia for the NL East lead.
Jesse Chavez (3-2) allowed two runs on three hits, and Will Smith worked a scoreless ninth to earn his 25th save. Smith allowed two walks but struck out Victor Robles and Juan Soto.
The Nationals have lost a season-high seven straight and are 10-30 since July 1.
Washington tied it with a three-run third. Robles had an RBI single, Adrian Sanchez scored on a wild pitch from Braves starter Drew Smyly and Soto had an RBI sacrifice fly to score Robles.
Freddie Freeman momentarily took the team lead with his 25th homer to lead off the fifth. Two pitches later, Austin Riley joined him with his 25th of the season as the Braves took a 5-3 lead and knocked out Nationals starter Paolo Espino (3-4) in the process.
“At any point in time someone could go yard,” Riley said. “It’s impressive. It just shows the depth. No matter the situation we are never out of it. It’s been a fun run.”
Freeman and Riley both broke a tie with Ronald Acuña Jr., who last played on July 10 and is out for the rest of the season after right knee surgery.
Carter Kieboom hit a two-out, two-run single to bring the Nationals back to within 6-5 in the fifth.
Righty reliever Richard Rodriguez worked a scoreless sixth for the Braves. He has yet to allow a run in nine innings over nine appearances with Atlanta since being acquired in a deadline deal from Pittsburgh.
“It’s a nice to have that piece, I’ll tell you that,” Snitker said about the recent addition of Rodriguez to his bullpen options.
For the season, Rodriguez is 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA and 14 saves.
Ozzie Albies had his streak of four straight games with a homer snapped but he was able to match a career-high with 15 stolen bases on the season after he swiped second in the second inning.
It’s the second time in his five-year career that he had a season with at least 20 homers, 30 doubles, and stolen 15 bases. He also did so in 2019. He has 22 homers and 31 double this season.
“Every time we lose, it stings,” manager Dave Martinez said as the losses continue to pile up for the rebuilding Nationals. “They’re not giving up. Honestly for me, it’s fun to watch some of these guys get an opportunity to play. … I tell them the results are going to come. You keep playing hard, the end result will be there.”
Six of Washington’s last 11 losses have been by one run.
“Dansby and Ozzie, they are on another planet,” Riley said when asked about the Braves recent hitting.
The middle infielders combined for seven homers in the three-game series.
Nationals: Placed RHP Joe Ross on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to Aug. 12) with a partial tear of his right elbow ulnar collateral ligament and recalled OF Lane Thomas. Thomas made his Nationals debut in left field, singled in his first two at bats and finished 2 for 4 with a walk.
Braves: RHP Touki Toussaint (1-2, 4.28 ERA) will take the mound as Atlanta beings a three-game series at Miami on Monday.
Nationals: RHP Erick Feede (4-8, 5.12 ERA) will start at home against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.