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ATL@WSH: Teheran fans six, holds Nats to two runs

Simply put, the Nationals hoped to turn the tide against the Braves entering 2014. Atlanta went 5-0 against Washington last April and took 13 of the clubs' 19 meetings, en route to winning the 2013 National League East Division title.

After losing two of three against the Braves at Nationals Park last weekend, Washington hopes to earn that series back when it visits Turner Field for a three-game series that begins Friday night.

"We obviously understand that we have some things that have to be addressed when we're playing them," Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond said. "But we're going to continue to get better and we'll see how it shakes out the rest of the way."

The rest of their matchups following this weekend take place far down the road. The teams will not meet again until a three-game set at Nationals Park from June 19-21. They then do not play again after that until Aug. 8-10 at Turner Field.

Not until September will they play each other again so often in such little time as they do in April, facing off in Washington from Sept. 8-10 and in Atlanta from Sept. 15-17.

Seeking to gain momentum in the NL East before they part for more than two months, the Nationals hope this weekend to match the number of series victories they earned against the Braves last season: one.

"The Braves are a really good team. They've got a lot of ways to beat you," Nationals manager Matt Williams said following the final game of his club's series loss on April 6. "We were in two of the three, really with the exception of [the 6-2 loss on April 5]. We were one swing away from that one, too. That's good. Guys are fighting hard."

Braves starter Julio Teheran will face fellow right-hander Tanner Roark of the Nationals in the opener.

Nationals: Becoming comeback kids
• Jayson Werth's grand slam on Wednesday capped Washington's 10-7 win against Miami and the club's second comeback from a deficit of at least five runs this season. The Nationals also rallied back from 3-0 to beat the Mets 9-7 on March 31.

Williams praised the Nationals bullpen's experience and ability to go long in games, as well as the various ways Washington has scored runs in its comebacks.

"Once you can get guys on base, we had a couple of guys get to third base last night that allowed us to score those easier runs to allow us to get back into the game," Williams said. "Then, some speed and some smarts, Denard [Span] laying down a bunt last night in a situation where we could get multiple guys on base to set up an inning. That type of stuff allows you to come back.

"Sometimes, however, you just have to slug your way back into it, too. It all depends on the game situation, but to have all of those qualities is a plus. If you get behind, you have the ability to come back into a game."

• Nationals second baseman Anthony Rendon broke a franchise record for longest hitting streak to begin a season on Thursday, hitting safely in his ninth straight game. He is batting .412 (14-for-34).

Braves: Teheran aims to match previous success vs. Nats
• Over the course of the past year, the Nationals have learned why many members of the Braves organization believe Julio Teheran has the potential to establish himself as a legitimate ace. Teheran has produced a 2.32 ERA in his past five starts against Washington.

After suffering a tough-luck loss during his first career Opening Day start in Milwaukee, Teheran righted himself by tossing seven solid innings in last Saturday's win over the Nationals. The only runs he allowed came via Adam LaRoche's two-run home run in the first inning.

Teheran completed the 111-pitch effort without the benefit of having a good feel for his slider. Still, he escaped trouble in the fifth and sixth innings, extending the trend he set last year when he limited opponents to a .217 batting average with runners in scoring position.

"He's resilient," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I don't worry about him anymore. When he gets his back against the wall, he seems to raise his game a little bit."

Worth noting
• Roark has yet to allow a run in three career games (one start) against the Braves. He has pitched 13 innings and struck out 12.

• LaRoche's 430-foot home run against Teheran on April 5 was his longest since hitting a three-run shot 434 feet against San Diego's Burch Smith on May 17, 2013. Comments