Sunday Night Baseball Predictions: Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves

The Washington Nationals (28-18) and Atlanta Braves (26-22) will close out a three-game National League East series on Sunday night at Turner Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 8:05 ET on ESPN

Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves 

Atlanta Braves SP Brandon Beachy has been tremendous at home during the 2012 MLB season

Washington will attempt to pick up its first sweep in Atlanta since the 2009 campaign on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, winning the first two games of the series by a combined 15-8 margin.  “The offense scoring seven runs two days in a row, I feel like I’m on vacation or something,” stated Nationals manager Davey Johnson.  Offensively, the team is averaging 4.2 runs during the month of May, which is much better than the 3.4 runs it managed to score in the previous month.  Washington is 14-10 in May and the “over” is 16-7-1 in those contests.

Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (6-1, 1.98 ERA) has won his last four starts, including a 2-1 road win over the Philadelphia Phillies last time out. He tossed six shutout innings and allowed just three hits in that effort.  The left-hander has compiled a solid 3-1 record and 2.70 ERA in five road outings, while not allowing a home run in 26.2 combined innings.  Gonzalez will be facing the Braves for the first time due to starting his career in the American League with the Oakland Athletics.

Atlanta will need to find a way to cope without having third baseman Chipper Jones in the lineup, going 7-17 this season when he doesn’t start. The future Hall of Fame player just landed on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised left leg.  The Braves have lost four straight games against the Nationals dating back to last September.  Second baseman Dan Uggla will need to up his production, collecting just four hits over his last 30 at-bats,  with the club scoring four or fewer runs in the last eight games.  Atlanta is 4-9 against divisional foes this year, with the “over” going 7-6 in that situation.

Braves starting pitcher Brandon Beachy (5-2, 1.77 ERA) had his three-game win streak snapped in dropping a 4-3 road decision to the Cincinnati Reds last time out, giving up a season-high four earned runs and six hits over seven frames.  The right-hander has tallied a dominating 2-0 record and 0.78 ERA in three home starts, as opposing hitters are batting just .160 against him.  In three career games versus the Nationals, Beachy is 1-1 with a 5.63 ERA, which includes a 4-1 road loss to end the 2011 campaign.

Bettors will likely back the Nationals due to their 17-8 record as an underdog, while the Braves are 0-4 in their last four home games against left-handed starters.

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