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
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
"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
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.