Now that the Washington Nationals have regained the lead in the NL East, they can focus on extending it by salvaging a home series split with the second-place Atlanta Braves.
The Nationals try to win two straight over the visiting Braves for the first time this season in Sunday's finale.Doug Fister threw eight strong innings and Anthony Rendon had three hits with two RBIs as Washington (38-35) moved one-half game ahead of Atlanta by snapping a five-game skid in the series with Saturday's 3-0 victory.The win was the second for the Nationals in nine games this year between the division frontrunners, and marked just their eighth win in the last 32 meetings."It's something positive for us now," said Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton, who went 1 for 2 with two runs scored."We're going to sleep fresh and be ready. Be ready because we've got to tie this series and keep going."Rendon, who hit a tying two-run homer in the ninth of Friday's 6-4, 13-inning defeat, is batting .396 with five home runs and 14 RBIs while Washington has won eight of 11 at home. The second-year third baseman has hit .357 (10 for 28) in his last seven home games versus Atlanta.Looking to win a career-high fourth straight start, Washington's Tanner Roark (6-4, 2.85 ERA) has allowed four runs and four walks in 26 innings while going 3-1 in June. The right-hander yielded a run in five innings of a 6-5 win over Houston on Tuesday.After allowing two hits in seven innings of a 4-0 home win in his first start against the Braves in September, Roark gave up five in 4 2/3 innings of a 7-6, 10-inning loss at Atlanta on April 11.The Braves (38-36) pounded out 23 hits to win the first two of this series, but were held to five singles Saturday.Evan Gattis singled Saturday and is batting .386 during a 20-game hitting streak. He's hitting .385 (10 for 26) in six games against the Nationals this season, but is 1 for 5 versus Roark.Freddie Freeman is batting .486 (18 for 37) against Washington this year, however, he's 1 for 6 with a double against Roark.Atlanta's Ervin Santana (5-4, 4.12) looks to avoid losing a season-high third straight start after allowing 10 runs and five walks over 12 1/3 innings in his last two outings. The right-hander yielded four of those runs in six innings of a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday.Santana is 1-4 with a 6.17 ERA in seven starts since going 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA in his first six."I know I'm close to getting out of this," he told the Braves' official website. "I just need to make good pitches."Santana has a 3.67 ERA while not factoring in the decision in any of his four starts versus Washington -- none this year.Nationals center fielder Denard Span is 4 for his last 8 with a homer against Santana. He's batting .381 (8 for 21) in the last five games after going 0 for 18 in his previous five.