WASHINGTON (AP) - Tommy Hanson's control issues put Atlanta in a hole early, and some of the Braves' hardest hits ended up in fielders' gloves.
Hanson (0-1) gave up four runs, three earned, in a rain-shortened start as the Braves lost 6-3 to the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
``I felt good, I'd just go through spurts where I'd make pitches, and then I wouldn't make pitches,' Hanson said. ``That's not going to cut it.'
The Atlanta hitters had troubles of their own despite getting 10 hits. The Braves stranded runners on second and third in the second, fourth and sixth innings.
``We hit the ball as hard as anybody,' Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ``We just didn't get that blooper when we needed to, with people on base.'
Hanson allowed five hits, walked two and struck out one in 3 2-3 innings before a 55-minute rain delay ended his outing. Most of the damage came in a three-run third.
Jayson Werth led off with a double - one of his three hits - Ryan Zimmerman was hit by a pitch and Michael Morse had a sacrifice fly. Rick Ankiel struck the hardest blow with a three-run home run to give the Nationals a 4-1 lead.
``My fastballs were catching way too much of the plate. I was just a little bit off with my command,' Hanson said. ``I'm not worried about it.
The Braves used five relievers to finish the game. Scott Linebrink and Peter Moylan each allowed a run.
After the delay, Gonzalez said it was an easy decision to remove Hanson, especially after he had some back issues in spring training.
``We want Tommy for the next 32 starts. For me, it wasn't even a difficult decision,' Gonzalez said. ``That's a no-brainer for me.'
John Lannan (1-0) worked five innings, allowing a run and five hits for the win, Washington's first of the season.
Chipper Jones drove in a run with a single in the top of the third inning, and the Braves added a pair of solo home runs.
Chad Gaudin allowed a leadoff home run to Dan Uggla in the sixth and Drew Storen gave up an eighth-inning home run to Alex Gonzalez. It was the first homer of the season for both players.
``It's always good to get that first one out of the way,' Uggla said. ``First hit, first everything.'
Washington's Sean Burnett pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings for his first save, including two strong defensive plays robbing the Braves of hits. Burnett started the ninth with a nice pickup of Martin Prado's short-hop grounder up the middle, and closed the game with a catch of a comebacker by Jones.
``On offense, we could have easily had 15 or 16 hits today,' Jones said. ``It just seemed like they had somebody making a great play on the other end of the line drive or something. There's nothing you can do, just tip your cap.'
Prado had perhaps the most difficult day at the plate for Atlanta, going 0 for 5 from the leadoff spot despite making hard contact every time.
``You can't control that,' Prado said. ``Hit the ball hard somewhere, and what happens, happens. That's all I can control.'
The Nationals scored their fifth run in the seventh. Zimmerman opened the inning with a triple and came home a few batters later when Ankiel laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to give Washington a 5-2 lead.
Zimmerman drove in Washington's final run with an eighth-inning single.
Hanson opening appearance of the season may not have gone the way he would have liked, but he doesn't think this game will set a tone for the season.
``I'm not worried about it,' Hanson said. ``It's my first start, and I know I can pitch better than that. I'm going to chalk it up as one of those days.'
NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 32 minutes by rain. ... Braves RHP Jair Jurrjens, who's been slowed with a rib cage injury, will throw again on the side on Sunday, Gonzalez said. It's possible he could still make his scheduled start on Wednesday in Milwaukee, but could also make a minor league start before returning to the rotation.
The Associated Press News Service
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