Juan Soto drives in winning run as Nationals beat Braves

Juan Soto drives in winning run as Nationals beat Braves

Juan Soto singled home the winning run with no outs in the ninth inning and the Washington Nationals opened their season with a 6-5 win against the visiting Atlanta Braves on Tuesday.

Victor Robles opened the ninth with a single off Will Smith (0-1) and Turner was hit on the leg by a pitch. Soto followed with a line drive to center on a 3-0 count, scoring Robles.

Turner hit at two-run homer for undermanned Washington, which finally began the season after four games were postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Daniel Hudson (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Ronald Acuna Jr. homered twice and drove in three runs for Atlanta, and Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson also homered.

Washington’s opening day roster did not include starting pitchers Patrick Corbin and Jon Lester, reliever Brad Hand, catchers Yan Gomes and Alex Avila, infielders Josh Bell, Josh Harrison or Jordy Mercer, or outfielder Kyle Schwarber, each of whom was placed on the injured list for an undisclosed reason and timeline.

Atlanta starter Drew Smyly allowed four runs on four hits with eight strikeouts over six innings. Washington’s Max Scherzer allowed four runs on five hits — including four home runs — over six innings. He struck out nine without a walk.

Acuna sent Scherzer’s first 2021 pitch over the bullpen in left center to give the Braves a quick 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Freeman — 0 for 9 coming in — hit a solo shot to right-center.

Swanson homered leading off the second inning, and the Braves had equaled their run output from the first three games.

Washington pulled within 3-2 in the bottom of the second when catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who signed a minor league contract with Washington on Saturday, doubled, scoring Perez and Andrew Stevenson.

Acuna’s second homer pushed the lead to 4-2 in the third, but Washington tied the score 4-4 in their half when Robles walked and Turner homered into the visitor’s bullpen in left center.

Acuna’s bases-loaded groundout gave the Braves a 5-4 lead in the seventh, but Stevenson tied it 5-5 with a bases-loaded infield single in the eighth.

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