ATLANTA — Cameron Maybin got exactly what he wanted — a chance to make up for his fielding mistake with a big hit against one of the game's best pitchers.
Maybin drove in the go-ahead run with a chopper against Max Scherzer that bounced over third base in the ninth inning, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday night.
"You just try to stay relaxed right there and battle against a guy like that," he said. "Sometimes the baseball gods will smile down on you, and they did for me."
Pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco began the Atlanta ninth with an infield single, beating shortstop Danny Espinosa's throw to stop a string of 10 in a row retired by Scherzer. He advanced to second on Jace Peterson's sacrifice and scored on Maybin's single.
Scherzer (9-6) allowed five hits and struck out nine in his third complete game in his last four starts. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 1.05 ERA during the dominant stretch, including a no-hitter June 20 against Pittsburgh.
"The way you lose like that — an infield single with Ciriaco being able to beat it out and then a ball that chops right over the third base — what are you going to get mad about?" Scherzer said. "I thought I executed my pitches in those situations. They just got hit. Baseball's a funny game sometimes."
The Braves won their second straight to earn a rare series victory over NL East-leading Washington, which dropped to 9-3 against Atlanta this year.
Jason Grilli (3-3) pitched a perfect ninth for the win, including a swinging strikeout of Bryce Harper.
The Braves grabbed the lead in the fifth when Juan Uribe doubled and scored on Andrelton Simmons' single. But the Nationals tied it in the seventh.
Harper led off with a double against David Aardsma, catching a break when Maybin ran hard and slid to his left before dropping the ball in center. Wilson Ramos followed with an RBI single.
"I got a good jump on the ball and felt I should've caught it," Maybin said. "I felt we shouldn't have been in that situation (in the ninth). It's one of those things where you have to keep going."
Scherzer, the Nationals' $210 million ace, retired his first seven batters before Eury Perez singled up the middle in the third.
"We were fortunate to get some guys in scoring position and get them in," Simmons said. "He was good. Had his slider working. His fastball beats you almost like every time just by a little bit, but we grinded our at-bats and got the big hits."
Atlanta starter Manny Banuelos, making his major league debut, allowed two hits and struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings before leaving with dehydration and cramping in his left fingers and left leg. The left-hander threw 48 of his 75 pitches for strikes.
Banuelos, acquired in the Jan. 1 trade that sent relievers David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve to the New York Yankees, went 6-2 with a 2.29 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Banuelos was tough on the Nationals after Ramos singled to begin the second, retiring 13 straight before hitting Denard Span and Danny Espinosa with two outs in the sixth.
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski motioned to the dugout for manager Fredi Gonzalez to send a trainer to the mound. That ended the night for Banuelos. Nick Masset retired the only batter he faced when Escobar lined out on the first pitch.
The Braves traded minor league pitcher Caleb Dirks and outfielder Jordan Paroubeck to the Los Angeles Dodgers for an international bonus pool slot worth $249,000.
Nationals: Manager Matt Williams said 3B Anthony Rendon, on the disabled list since last Friday with a strained left quadriceps, is hitting in the cage, but not running yet. Rendon is not on the road trip. ... 1B Ryan Zimmerman, on the DL since June 11 with a left plantar fasciitis, is hitting and taking grounders, but only doing light running. ... RHP Aaron Barrett, out since June 12 with a strained biceps, threw 16 pitches in one inning Wednesday with Single-A Potomac. Williams said his fastball hit 96 mph and that the pitcher felt no added soreness Thursday.
Braves: 1B Freddie Freeman says he likely won't return from a wrist injury until after the All-Star break. The slugger still has severe tendon and ligament inflammation. He continues to feel significant pain following a platelet-rich plasma injection last week. Atlanta placed him on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 18, with a right wrist contusion. The Braves have scored a total of just 28 runs in 13 games without Freeman.
Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (5-4) gets the ball in the opener of a three-game series against San Francisco on Friday night. Gonzalez is 2-2 with a 2.59 ERA in seven career starts against the Giants.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (5-4) starts for Atlanta on Friday night against Philadelphia. Teheran is 3-3 with a 2.92 ERA in seven career starts and one relief appearance against the Phillies.