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Nationals frustrated again in 3-2 loss to Braves

Saturday - 8/17/2013, 12:20am  ET

Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (34) is hit by a pit by Atlanta Braves' Luis Avilan during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Atlanta, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/John Amis)

CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Nationals have followed a five-game losing streak with two close losses that were painfully familiar to Jayson Werth.

Washington's struggles against Atlanta continued as Justin Upton hit a home run with one out in the 10th inning to power the Braves to a 3-2 win over the Nationals on Friday night.

The loss followed a 4-3 home loss to the Giants on Thursday night in a game decided by a three-run homer in the ninth.

Back-to-back tough losses?

"Boy, you aren't kidding," Washington manager Davey Johnson said.

Werth said there have been far too many close losses this season.

"It's not easy losing, that's for sure," Werth said. "It's kind of been the story of the year so far; we play just good enough to lose."

The Braves, who swept a three-game series at Washington on Aug. 5-7, lead the season series 11-3, including six straight wins.

Jason Heyward had two hits and scored one run for Atlanta, which stretched its lead over the second-place Nationals to 15 1/2 games.

"There's a lot of baseball to be played," Upton said. "Our lead is pretty big right now, but crazier things have happened in baseball. You've got to go out and win as many games as you can."

Upton's 23rd homer to left-center came on a 2-2 pitch from Ian Krol (1-1). It was his third career game-winning homer and second of the season.

Scott Downs (2-0) pitched a scoreless 10th for Atlanta.

Washington's Taylor Jordan did not allow an earned run, but was hurt by three errors. Jordan allowed two runs, both unearned, and seven hits and three walks in six innings.

Washington's Bryce Harper was hit by pitches in the fourth and eighth innings by Alex Wood and Luis Avilan, respectively.

Home plate umpire Marty Foster warned both benches after Avilan hit Harper on his shoulder in the eighth.

Washington's players rose to the top of the dugout, but didn't come onto the field.

Harper did not talk with reporters after the game.

Johnson said he thought Avilan should have been thrown out of the game.

Asked if he thought Braves pitchers were trying to hit Harper, Johnson said, "I hope not, because it's ridiculous. In a close ballgame, they've got a lot more to lose than we do at this point, so it would be a ridiculous thing to do.

"After he got hit the second time they should have thrown (Avilan) out of the ballgame and be done with it. But it's their choice."

On Aug. 6, both benches emptied when Harper was hit by Julio Teheran in the Braves' 2-1 win at Washington.

Wood and Avilan insisted they didn't try to hit Harper.

"I tried not to look at him," Wood said of Harper. "It was embarrassing to hit somebody with a curveball."

Avilan was trying to protect a 2-1 lead when he hit Harper.

"I didn't want to put the runner on," Avilan said.

"I was like, I hope he doesn't think I did it on purpose. We're leading 2-1. ... I felt bad because I almost hit him in the head because it's dangerous, you know."

Will the Nationals respond by hitting a Braves batter in one of the final two games of the series?

"That's one of those things that we'll take care of in-house," Werth said. "That's just part of the game. I'm not going to speak publicly about it."

Downs threw an inside pitch past Harper to the backstop before walking Harper with one out in the 10th. Werth hit into a double play to end the inning.

There was no reaction from Harper when he was hit by a pitch from Wood to lead off the fourth.

Harper calmly jogged to first base and then made a comment to first baseman Freddie Freeman, prompting both to laugh. Harper advanced to third on Werth's single and scored when Desmond hit into a double play.

Harper wasn't laughing after he was hit by Avilan's pitch in the eighth following a double by Ryan Zimmerman. Luis Ayala replaced Avilan and gave up a single to Werth as the Nationals pulled even at 2-2.

Wood gave up one run and five hits and no walks and a career-high nine strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.

Washington helped the Braves with three errors.

Heyward led off the first inning with a single and took off for second base on ball four to Upton.

Washington catcher Wilson Ramos made an unnecessary and wild throw to second base for an error, allowing Heyward to advance to third before scoring on Freddie Freeman's double play grounder.

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