Game 146: Nationals at Braves

Adam Berry here at Turner Field, pinch-hitting for Bill Ladson. For more news and notes and in-game updates, check out Nationals.com and follow me on Twitter @adamdberry.

The Nationals will wrap up their six-game road trip tonight in Atlanta under the lights and national stage of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, looking to avoid a sweep that would knock their National League East lead down to 5 1/2 games.

Even with a loss, the Nats would still have a substantial lead, but there’s still some importance to winning this one, as Adam LaRoche noted after last night’s 5-4 loss.

“You don’t want to get swept anywhere, especially against the team behind you, so it’s a big game,” LaRoche said. “I think they’re all pretty big from here on out. But we’ve got a chance to really gain some ground against these guys. Had two close ones, lost ‘em. Come out tomorrow, hopefully take one.”

And, as Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, “At the very least, if we don’t catch them because they’ve got a good club, you can hang your hats on, we may meet them after the play-in game. It’s always good to play good with your opponent the last time you’ve seen them.”

-In other news, there’s no guarantee that Michael Morse (left wrist) will be ready to play Tuesday against the Dodgers. He didn’t take batting practice again today, and Davey Johnson said Morse will have to do that before he can play. Or, as Johnson said, “I’m not countin’ on nothing. I’m not taking anything for granted. Hope everything gets better.”

-Check out today’s notebook for more on this, but Johnson said there’s “no question about it” that he’ll try to talk both the Nationals brass and LaRoche into picking up the first baseman’s mutual contract option for next year. LaRoche hit his 30th homer of the season last night and has helped bring balance to a lineup that was predominantly right-handed a year ago.

“We need him back more than we need me back,” Johnson quipped.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

Nationals (89-56)
Jayson Werth RF
Bryce Harper CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Tyler Moore LF
Kurt Suzuki C
Gio Gonzalez LHP

Braves (83-63)
Michael Bourn CF
Reed Johnson LF
Jason Heyward RF
Chipper Jones 3B
Freddie Freeman 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
David Ross C
Andrelton Simmons SS
Mike Minor LHP

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