It may have taken 14 innings, but the Nationals continue to be baseball's best team and now have a whopping six game lead on the Braves in the NL East. (Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE)

Nationals Remain Baseball's Best, Knock Off Braves in 13 Innings

The Atlanta Braves were  looking to gain some ground on the baseball’s best team on Monday night, and they took the Nationals to the 12th inning. If you wanted a heavy weight title between two titans in the East, than Monday’s 13 inning battle was exactly what you were looking for. Entering the game, the Braves sat five games behind Washington in the East and

The longest game the Nationals have played all year long went to 14 innings back on June 16 against the New York Yankees.  Monday’s game was Washington’s seventeenth extra-innings ballgame of the year.

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Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerman went five full innings before getting pulled after giving up a two run home run to Jason Heyward which tied the game at 4-4. That’s the way the score would stay through 7 innings of baseball and 12 relievers between the two teams.

Atlanta starter Tim Hudson lasted only an inning longer than Zimmerman, but unlike the Nationals, Atlanta didn’t rely to heavily on their bullpen. The same cannot be said for Washington who blew through an unprecedented seven relievers, changing pitchers every inning until the 13th inning when Washington sent righty Craig Stammen out for a second consecutive inning of work.

In the bottom of the 13th inning, Danny Espinosa bunted for a base hit and on the next batter, Kurt Suzuki slapped a ball that bounced on the pitchers mound and resulted in no play. But the heads up play was made by Espinosa who prceeded t take third base with three Braves surrounding the ball on the mound and no one covering third.

The next batter, pinch hitter Chad Tracy put the ball in play directly at Dan Uggla. But when Uggla went to make the throw, he either bobbled the ball or just froze up. No matter what happened in Uggla’s mind, his hesitation allowed Espinosa to cross home in one of the more confusing and brain scratching plays of the year.

The Nationals won’t be complaining, they now sit six full games on top of Atlanta in the NL East and are poised to set themselves up nicely for their first division title since moving to Washington. As for the Braves, they now just sit three games ahead of the Pirates for the top Wild Card spot. The only problem with now, is the Los Angeles Dodgers are also three games out — meaning one of these three teams will not be heading to the postseason this year.

Right now Atlanta has some breathing room, but it’s getting harder and harder for them to breath with Pittsburgh, Los Angeles (and San Francisco, who leads the West by a half game) as well as the St. Louis Cardinals who sit just 2 games out.

Tags: MLB Washington Nationals

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