Ailing Nationals lose Escobar in tension-filled game, fall to Braves 8-4 for 6th straight loss



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ATLANTA — Everywhere the Nationals turned, another injury added more pain to yet another loss.

Third baseman Yunel Escobar suffered a cut left hand and said he expects to miss a day or two after tensions flared in an 8-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Monday night that left Washington with a six-game losing streak.

Escobar is playing third base because Anthony Rendon has missed the first month with a knee injury. Rendon appeared to be making strong progress in his recovery before he was held out with fatigue in his minor league rehab assignment on Monday.

Meanwhile, manager Matt Williams confirmed Max Scherzer will miss Tuesday night's scheduled start with a sprained thumb but should return in a few days.

"Rough game for us all around," Williams said.

Kelly Johnson homered and drove in three runs for Atlanta.

Tensions rose following a hard slide into third base by Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons in the fifth. Simmons was safe when he knocked the ball out of Escobar's glove. Escobar left the game with his left hand bleeding. It was swollen following the game but Williams said there was no fracture.

Both dugouts were warned after Washington's Rafael Martin hit Simmons with a pitch to open the bottom of the seventh. Jonny Gomes, who wasn't playing, charged out of Atlanta's dugout and was ejected.

Simmons defended his slide as "going hard." He said he expected a response.

"I kind of knew they were looking at me kind of bad after the slide," Simmons said. "I had it in my mind it might happen."

Asked if he thought Simmons' slide was clean, Williams said "I'm not going to comment on that."

Washington shortstop Ian Desmond said Simmons "didn't slide, basically, at all.

"That kid's a good player, plays with a lot of energy but he's got to be way smarter than that," Desmond said. "That was an ugly play and it looked ugly. I'm sure when he goes back and looks at it, hopefully he learns from it."

Doug Fister (1-1) gave up 10 hits and five runs, four earned, in 5 2-3 innings as he struggled with pitches rising in the strike zone.

"It's just kind of a constant battle for me," Fister said. "It's always a focus point but tonight was one of those nights I couldn't get on top of it."

The Nationals committed four errors, including two by Fister on errant pickoff attempts. Desmond added his ninth error in 20 games.

The losing streak is Washington's longest since six straight from July 19-24, 2013. The Nationals (7-13) fell to last place in the NL East.

Eric Stults (1-1) allowed two runs on four hits and three walks.

Cody Johnson took over for Stults with one out in the seventh and hit Reed Johnson with a pitch. A video review was needed to determine the pitch skimmed Reed Johnson's hand.

EJECTED

Simmons was stranded on third in the fifth when Freddie Freeman struck out while trying to check his swing. Freeman said he was surprised he was ejected by third base umpire John Hirschbeck. Freeman said Hirschbeck used profane language when telling him to shut up.

"It's something I haven't been a part of," Freeman said. "I didn't say 'You're bad.' I didn't personalize anything. I just said 'That's bad' a few times. I don't think I've ever heard an umpire say something like that to a player before."

TRAINERS ROOM

Nationals: Williams said Rendon couldn't get his knee loose because of cold conditions, so he was held out of his minor league game with Double-A Harrisburg as a precaution.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Following the game, Williams said right-hander A.J. Cole would be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to fill in Tuesday night for Max Scherzer, who will miss his scheduled because of a sprained right thumb.

Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will try to bounce back after walking five batters in 4 1-3 innings in a 6-3 loss to the Mets on Thursday. Teheran is 2-1 with a 4.64 ERA.

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