MLB Predictions 2012: Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals

The Atlanta Braves (50-41) and Washington Nationals (53-37) will continue a three-game National League East series on Friday night at Nationals Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 ET

Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals SP Stephen Strasburg is 2-3 with a 4.26 ERA in five career starts versus the Atlanta Braves

Atlanta has won eight of its last 10 games and begins this series 3.5 games back of Washington in the division race, coming off a 3-2 home victory over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday afternoon.  The Braves avoided getting swept at home by the Giants for the first time at Turner Field.  Offensively, the team has hit just .229 in losing six of eight meetings in this season series, while its also dropped 9 of 11 dating back to last year.  Atlanta is 10-3 as a road underdog of +125 to +150, with the “over” going 8-5 in that situation.

Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson (10-5, 4.02 ERA) has led the club to seven victories in his last eight starts, but failed to earn a decision in a 8-7 home win over the New York Mets last time out, giving up six runs and nine hits over 5.1 frames.  The right-hander is 7-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 road outings, surrendering 10 home runs in 60 combined innings.  In 10 career starts versus the Nationals, Hanson has garnered a 3-3 record and 3.38 ERA.

Washington will try to avoid dropping back-to-back games for the first time since June 24-25, as it was handed a 9-5 setback at home by the New York Mets.  The Nationals still managed to win the series, improving their series record to 7-1-2 against division rivals.  Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has caught fire at the plate, batting .440 since the All-Star break, but may cool down due to going 3 for 21 lifetime against Hanson.  Washington is 35-22 in night games this year.

Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 2.66 ERA) ended his three-game losing streak with a 4-0 road win over the Miami Marlins last time out, allowing six hits over six shutout frames.  The right-hander is 4-2 with a 2.68 ERA in eight home outings, issuing nine walks and striking out 53 batters in 47 combined innings.  In five lifetime starts versus the Braves, Strasburg has tallied a 2-3 record and 4.26 ERA.

Sports bettors will likely back the Braves due to their 6-0 record in Hanson’s last six starts as a road underdog of +110 to +150, while the Nationals are just 32-32 in July over the last two-plus seasons.

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