Adams’ first career HR in 9th lifts Nats past Braves, 3-2

MLB Baseball

ATLANTA (AP)Washington’s new young battery gave the Nationals hope for the future and helped sour the Atlanta Braves’ hopes for this season.

Riley Adams’ two-run homer in the ninth gave Washington the lead and the Nationals rallied with three runs off Atlanta closer Will Smith, beating the Braves 3-2 on Saturday night.

Smith blew a 2-0 lead in the ninth, wasting a strong start from Charlie Morton and costing Atlanta an opportunity to move past the New York Mets and into second place in the tight NL East.

Adams, a rookie catcher who took a .091 batting average into the game, crushed the first pitch he saw from Smith, a fastball, for a high homer, the first of his career. The shot traveled 412 feet into the second deck of seats in left field and drove in Ryan Zimmerman, who had a pinch-hit double.

Adams’ shot sailed so high, even he didn’t know where it landed.

”Honestly after I hit it, I pretty much knew off the bat it was gone, but as I started to run I was looking for it and couldn’t find it,” Adams said.

Adams was paired with rookie right-hander Josiah Gray, who also had a night to remember with his first 10-strikeout game.

Adams and Gray came to Washington in trade-deadline deals as the Nationals plot their path for the future. Gray was watching in the clubhouse when Adams’ homer gave Washington, which had lost five consecutive games, the lead.

”I started jumping for joy because we haven’t won in a while,” Gray said. ”I was the first guy at the top step waiting to congratulate him.”

Morton allowed only three hits in six scoreless innings before Smith (3-6) suffered his third blown save in 25 chances. The left-hander walked Josh Bell before giving up Zimmerman’s double to open the ninth. Bell scored on Luis Garcia’s groundout as Zimmerman advanced to third.

”I wouldn’t take it back,” Smith said of the fastball to Adams. ”He just got me. … It wasn’t my night tonight, obviously.”

Jorge Soler had two hits, including a homer for Atlanta.

Morton escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth by striking out Yadiel Hernandez and Josh Bell.

With runners on first and second, Hernandez ended the eighth with a fly ball off Luke Jackson to the warning track in left field. Hernandez saw his nine-game hitting streak end.

Soler pulled a fastball from Gray into the left-field stands for his 16th homer in the first. Atlanta added an unearned run off Gray in the third when Stephen Vogt struck out but reached on a wild pitch and scored on Ozzie Albies’ single and center fielder Andrew Stevenson’s fielding error.

Andres Machado (1-0) had two strikeouts in a scoreless eighth. Kyle Finnegan pitched the ninth for his third save.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: After an MRI on his right knee was negative earlier on Saturday, revealing only a bruise, OF Juan Soto walked as a pinch-hitter in the sixth. Soto was held out of the starting lineup for a second consecutive game. Before the game, manager Dave Martinez said Soto was ”moving around a little better today.”

Braves: RHP Huascar Ynoa (right hand fracture) could be nearing the end of his minor league rehab. Ynoa gave up three runs, one earned, in 3 2/3 innings for Gwinnett on Friday night. ”One more time out and he’s stretched out,” manager Brian Snitker said Saturday. Ynoa had a 3.02 ERA in nine games and had 50 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings for Atlanta before breaking his hand when punching the dugout on May 16.

FREEMAN AILING

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman left the game with an upper respiratory infection after playing only one inning.

”He wasn’t feeling great before the game but thought he could play,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker, adding Freeman felt worse ”after he got out there and started running around.”

GRAY MATTERS

Gray, making his second start following his trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits in five innings. He had command of his fastball but also recorded strikeouts with his slider and curveball.

”It was pretty cool seeing his stuff,” Adams said. ”He’s got a lot of life on his fastball and then has two really elite breaking balls with that slider and curveball.”

UP NEXT

Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin (6-10. 5.74) has lost his last three decisions and has allowed four or more runs in each of his last four starts. He gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings in a 5-1 loss at Atlanta on June 3, his only start against the Braves this season.

Braves: LHP Max Fried (8-7, 4.05) has an ugly 8.82 ERA and 1-1 record in three starts against Washington this season.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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