Final in 11

Braves 3

(13-13, 5-9 away)

Nationals 4

(12-13, 8-4 home)

    1:05 PM ET, March 30, 2005

    Space Coast Stadium, Melbourne, Florida 

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    ATL 00010000200 3 - -
    WAS 00001011001 4 - -

    Washington 4, Atlanta 3 (11 innings)

    VIERA, Fla. (AP) -- Livan Hernandez was in regular-season form on the mound and at the plate. Most of his teammates have some work to do, but they can take solace from ending a six-game losing streak.

    Washington's opening-day starter pitched eight innings and drove in two runs, and reserve outfielder J.J. Davis hit a game-winning homer in the 11th inning to help the Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 4-3 Wednesday.

    "Everything is now together. I'm ready for the next game -- next Monday, opening day" at Philadelphia, Hernandez said after allowing one run, lowering his exhibition ERA to 2.18, and striking out six. "I've never had a spring training like this one. I'm surprised."

    He threw 99 pitches, and both Hernandez and manager Frank Robinson said the right-hander could have pitched the ninth. Hernandez led the NL in complete games and innings the past two seasons.

    "It's the same old thing, every time he goes out there: He makes it look easy," said Robinson, who joked that he thought the Nationals' clubhouse manager might have brought out champagne to celebrate the team's first win since March 21.

    Davis, whose major league experience consists of 80 at-bats over the past three seasons with the Pirates, hit a 2-0 offering from Matt Childers to left-center to end the game. The reserve outfielder also drove in Washington's third run with a groundout.

    "My confidence level has gone from down here to up here," Davis said, lifting his hand from chest-high to 6 inches above his head. "I know I can hit big league pitching."

    For the second straight night, the Nationals' bullpen blew a ninth-inning lead. Down 3-1, the Braves loaded the bases against reliever Joe Horgan with a walk and singles by Julio Franco and Johnny Estrada, before Pete Orr lined a two-out, two-strike single to make it 3-all.

    Hernandez made it 2-1 in the seventh with a double and drove in Washington's first run in the fifth. Ryan Church, who had been 0-for-5 since moving into the lineup in center field, reached on an infield single and stole second. He moved to third on Gary Bennett's single and scored on Hernandez's sacrifice against starter Horacio Ramirez (six innings, five hits, one run).

    "This is a team that's going to play a lot of 5-4 games, 4-3 games, 3-2 games. Every run's going to be critical," general manager Jim Bowden said. "How we do in one-run games is key."

    The Nationals hit into inning-ending double plays in the first, fourth, sixth and 10th, more of the sort of offensive problems that produced just 14 runs over the preceding seven games.

    "It's going to take two or three hits put together to score," Robinson said. "If our pitchers go out there and hold clubs to three runs or less, we have to win those games."

    The only run Hernandez allowed came on Raul Mondesi's homer in the fourth. Mondesi missed six games with a strained right hamstring, but since returning Monday, he's 4-for-11 with three extra-base hits.

    Game notes

    Nationals SS Cristian Guzman went 0-for-4, making him 0-for-7 the past two games in the leadoff slot, up for grabs since Endy Chavez was sent to the minors Tuesday. ... The Braves placed left-handed reliever Gabe White on waivers for the purpose of his unconditional release. He had a 4.32 ERA in six spring appearances.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press