With their revamped lineup and league-leading 9-1 record in tow, the Braves were expected to revamp their rivalry against the Nationals in a big way Friday.
They did just that, erasing a three-run deficit to push the game to extra innings and extend their winning streak to seven after the 6-4 win. Atlanta enters Saturday's game riding a three-series win streak and can extend that streak behind a strong outing from starter Tim Hudson.
Hudson takes the mound on Saturday after his most recent outing, in which he limited the Cubs to one run in 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander has a strong history against the Nationals/Expos over his 15-year career, going 14-5 with a 2.65 ERA through 176 2/3 innings.
But Hudson struggled in his three starts against the Nationals last year, posting a 7.71 ERA.
He'll need to buck that trend as he matches up with one of the best starters in the league in Stephen Strasburg.
Strasburg will try to make up for Sunday's rough outing, when he gave up nine hits, four walks, and six runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Reds. It was only the third time in his career he allowed six earned runs, and catcher Kurt Suzuki, who was behind the plate for that last start, said there isn't anything in particular Strasburg needs to improve on.
"It's just one of those things where it didn't go his way," Suzuki said. "He gave up some two-strike hits where it was a good job of hitting, where they just kind of fought it off and it landed in some green [grass], but overall, he's going to pitch how Stras pitches. He's not going to change a thing, and I want him to stay that way."
Strasburg's previous outing with six earned runs came last July 31 against the Phillies. He proceeded to win his next four starts, with a 1.50 ERA, allowing 12 hits in 24 innings.
"He doesn't really dwell on it too much," Suzuki said. "He obviously thinks about it, because he's a smart kid and he knows what he wants to do out there, so he makes adjustments in the game. He just goes from inning to inning and makes adjustments along the way."
Strasburg is 3-3 against the Braves over his career, racking up a 4.17 ERA through 36 2/3 innings. In his last matchup against the Braves, Strasburg struck out 10 (a career best against them), and gave up just earned one run in six innings for the win.
Braves: Johnson notes balance
Nationals manager Davey Johnson noted the balance the Braves have struck with their lineup this season. With the additions of two right-handed power threats in B.J. Upton and Justin Upton, Johnson said they've addressed a weak point from last year.
"I thought the Braves were a little too left-handed," Johnson said. "They added the Upton boys. I thought Chris Johnson was a great addition, too. They have three really good right-handed bats. Of course, the younger players are playing awfully well -- Andrelton Simmons, Evan Gattis and Juan Francisco. They are a balanced ballclub now."
Nationals: Washington measures up
Denard Span doesn't want to get ahead of himself when talking about Washington's series against Atlanta. It's still early in the season, but the outfielder said it will be a helpful gauge for his club.
"This isn't a make-or-break series or anything like that, but I think it's very important to see where we are in the second week of the season," Span said. "We faced those guys a lot during Spring Training, but this is a little bit different, in the regular season."
• The Nationals may have dominated the season series in 2012, but the trend started to change in the later part of the season. Washington lost six of its final 10 meetings to the Braves, including the last four.
• Johnson, with his 1,293 career managerial wins, is poised to move into the top 30 all-time. Johnson currently ranks 31st on the all-time list and trails Hall of Famer Cap Anson, who posted 1,295 wins and a .578 winning percentage over 21 seasons.
Gary Cotton is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.