WASHINGTON (AP) – Andruw Jones tied a franchise record with his 47th homer, Brian McCann added a three-run shot, and Jorge Sosa threw eight shutout innings, giving the Atlanta Braves a 4-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday.

Jones and McCann both homered over the right-field fence in the fourth off Livan Hernandez (15-7) – who has lost 11 straight regular-season decisions against Atlanta.

Hernandez started Jones off with a looping 61 mph offering, then followed it with a pitch at 64 mph for a called strike.

The right-hander next threw consecutive pitches at 87 mph, and the second was pounded by Jones, who added to his majors-high homer total and matched Eddie Mathews (1953) and Hank Aaron (1971) for most in a season by a Braves player.

An out later, three members of Atlanta’s impressive rookie contingent helped pad the lead. Jeff Francoeur doubled, Ryan Langerhans walked, and McCann sent a 2-0 pitch over the wall for his fifth homer, making it 4-0.

Sosa (11-3) made it stand up, improving to 8-0 with a 1.71 ERA in road starts this season, thanks in part to a big assist from Francoeur in the fifth.

With Ryan Church aboard after a leadoff single, Cristian Guzman sent a deep drive to right. Timing his leap perfectly, Francoeur reached over the wall to grab the ball, robbing Guzman of what would have been a two-run homer. Jones, a seven-time Gold Glove winner, jogged over from his spot in center field to shake Francoeur’s hand.

Sosa scattered six hits, didn’t walk a batter, and only allowed two runners as far as second base. He did it by throwing 74 of his 99 pitches for strikes. He started off 24 of 29 batters with a strike.

Kyle Farnsworth pitched the ninth for Atlanta, which has won seven of nine games.

It had to be deflating loss for the Nationals, and not just because it was their fourth setback in five games as they try to stay in the NL wild-card race.

This defeat came a day after Washington earned a rousing victory, trailing 6-2 Friday before coming all the way back against Atlanta’s bullpen to win 8-6 with four runs in the eighth.

And it came with All-Star and staff ace Hernandez on the mound. While he did allow the bullpen some much-needed rest by lasting eight innings, he also took a loss by giving up four runs and seven hits.

Now this is what the Nationals have to look forward to in Sunday’s series finale: going with a starter-by-committee-of-relievers against John Smoltz.

Notes: Nationals manager Frank Robinson said he would decide after the game who would start Sunday. … Hernandez singled in the third. … His last regular-season victory over Atlanta came on Aug. 18, 2000, for San Francisco. He’s 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA against the Braves in the postseason, though. … Only Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter has a better road record in 2005 than Sosa (12-0).

AP-ES-09-10-05 1546EDT


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