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WSH@ATL: Morse drills a solo homer for the early lead

ATLANTA -- Manager Davey Johnson often talks about how much he loves to see a lot of runs scored in a game. He was able to get his wish on Tuesday night.

The Nationals used the long ball to defeat the Braves, 9-2, at Turner Field. The victory broke Washington's six-game losing streak, while improving its record to 63-70.

"I love games like that," Johnson said. "... Guys were having good at-bats, good swings every time they went up there. That's what made it real fun."

Before Tuesday's game, Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens had faced the Nationals twice this season and allowed 11 runs in 10 innings. Jurrjens continued to have problems with Washington, yielding six runs in six innings.

The Nats scored the first run of the game in the second, when Michael Morse hit a monster home run over the left-center-field wall.

But the Braves tied the game in the bottom of the inning off right-hander Livan Hernandez. Dan Uggla scored on a sacrifice fly by Jason Heyward.

Washington, however, dominated after that. In the third, Ryan Zimmerman scored the go-ahead run on Morse's single.

Two innings later, Zimmerman hit a three-run shot over the right-center-field wall to make it a 5-1 game.

The sixth was Jurrjens' last, and it wasn't a good one as he allowed a solo homer to Danny Espinosa.

"I was leaving a lot of pitches up and down the middle," Jurrjens said. "Those things are excuses. You still need to go out there and perform. I didn't perform today."

So why have the Nats been able to get to Jurrjens this year?

"I know when we faced him, sometimes he has left some breaking pitches and offspeed pitches up in the zone, and we have hammered him," outfielder Laynce Nix said. "I think knowing he is a great pitcher going into the game, we are on our toes and knowing we have to be on top of our games."

Said Johnson, "Jurrjens is a good pitcher. A lot of times, I think things are mental. You hit a ball good off a guy, you think you can get him and you get him. That's the attitude that I like to have around here -- feel like we can get everybody that goes out there."

Cristhian Martinez entered for Atlanta in the seventh and allowed three runs. Morse showed his hitting prowess again with an RBI single. Nix followed with a two-run homer.

The hitting display helped Hernandez notch his eighth victory. He lasted seven innings and allowed two runs on five hits. He also became the 12th pitcher in baseball history to throw 50,000 pitches. That pitch came in the second, when he induced Jurrjens to ground out to end the inning.

Hernandez didn't about know about the milestone until clubhouse manager Mike Wallace informed him before the game.

"I thank God every day for giving me a chance to throw all of my career. It's nice," Hernandez said. "It's hard to stay healthy every five days. ... I'm the type of guy that tries to take care of myself every fifth day. Sometimes, it's hard to pitch when it's hot or cold.

"Sometimes, the weather is bad. You have to see everything that happens around you. It's not easy to throw 50,000 pitches. I told the young guys, when you get here, you try to stay here. You don't try to stay here for a couple of years and go somewhere else. You want to stay in this level It's easy to make it, but it's not easy to be consistent every fifth day."

Hernandez is a free agent after the season and he made it known that he wants to stay with the Nats. Knowing that the team plans to have a young rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann next year, Hernandez told general manager Mike Rizzo that he is willing to become a long reliever with the club. Hernandez wants to start working on his new role this offseason.

"Hopefully something good happens. I [hope to get a chance] and try to be a long reliever and see. I made the decision that day with [pitching coach Steve McCatty]. I told Cat the other day that I can do that. Let's see what happens.

"I love to stay here. It's not about the money because I know I can make more money. It's about I enjoy every day that I am here. I enjoy playing baseball here. It's where you feel comfortable. I lived before with no money. This is where you feel good." Comments