Series: Game 3 of 3

Atlanta won 2-1

Game 1: Monday, September 18
Game 2: Tuesday, September 19
Game 3: Wednesday, September 20

Braves 7

(74-78, 38-39 away)

Nationals 3

(66-86, 39-36 home)

    7:05 PM ET, September 20, 2006

    RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. 

    123456789 R H E
    ATL 103011001 7 12 0
    WAS 100100001 3 8 0

    W: L. Cormier (4-5)

    L: R. Ortiz (10-15)

    Braves bang out three home runs, overpower Nationals

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- As Atlanta clings to its slim postseason chances, starter Lance Cormier gave the Braves just what they needed.

    Elias Says
    Bob Wickman
    Bob Wickman agreed to a one-year contract extension with the Braves on Wednesday, after saving 30 games this season -- 15 for Cleveland and 15 for Atlanta. The only other pitcher to notch at least 15 saves each for two different teams in the same season was Jeff Shaw, who had more than 20 for both the Reds (23) and Dodgers (25) in 1998. Wickman came close to doing it in 2000, when he split 30 saves between the Brewers (16) and Indians (14).

    • For more Elias Says, click here

    Cormier allowed two runs and six hits over 6 1/3 innings and the Braves hit three home runs in a 7-3 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.

    "Lance came up with another gem I thought," manager Bobby Cox said. "His curveball was really working, and that's a great pitch, because nobody can hit that thing."

    Atlanta, which has 10 games remaining, closed within five games behind Los Angeles and Philadelphia, the NL wild-card leaders. The Braves have been in the playoffs every year since 1991.

    Brian McCann hit a three-run homer in the third and Andruw Jones, who had an RBI single in the first, hit a solo shot -- his 36th -- in the fifth. Jeff Francoeur added a solo homer, his 26th, in the sixth.

    The Braves have 202 home runs this season, fifth-most in franchise history.

    "Especially considering we don't play in a hitter's park," it's impressive, said McCann, who has 21 homers. "We've got a lot of guys with power."

    Cormier (4-5) won for the second time in his last three starts. He walked four, struck out five and gave up Ryan Zimmerman's 19th home run in the first inning.

    "I'm just trying to continue to believe that I've got the stuff to be a starter," Cormier said. "Just go out there when you have the chance to start and give it everything you have."

    Ramon Ortiz (10-15) allowed five runs and eight hits, including the home runs to McCann and Jones, in five innings. In his last eight starts, he is 1-6 with an 8.08 ERA. He has lost all three games since his near no-hitter against St. Louis on Sept. 4, and he is tied with the Cardinals' Jason Marquis for the National League lead in losses.

    "Every time I make a mistake -- home run," Ortiz said. "I don't want to think about my last three games. I have to keep pitching well. I want to finish strong. I want to do the best I can my last three games."

    Zimmerman's homer gave him 99 RBI for the season, tops among NL rookies. He scored in the fourth on Bernie Castro's infield single.

    Cormier left with one out in the seventh after Nook Logan reached on a bunt single and Jose Vidro walked. Reliever Chad Paronto forced groundouts from Alfonso Soriano and Felipe Lopez to end the threat.

    Edgar Renteria had an RBI double in the ninth for Atlanta.

    Brian Schneider of the Nationals doubled in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games. He scored on a two-out single by Brandon Harper.

    Game notes

    Braves 3B Chipper Jones left the game after the sixth inning because of soreness in the second toe on his right foot. Cox said he could start Thursday at Colorado. ... Braves closer Bob Wickman agreed to a $6.5 million, one-year contract extension for 2007. ... Nationals RHP Brett Campbell will miss the next 7-10 days with a back strain. ... Self-help guru Dr. Phil McGraw threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Zimmerman's last homer was Sept. 2 against Arizona. ... Logan has seven bunt hits since being acquired from Detroit on Sept. 1. ... The Braves' record for home runs in a season is 235 in 2003.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press