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ATL@MIL: Wood tosses seven innings of one-run ball

The Braves won the first five games played against the Nationals last season and ended up going 13-6 during the season series against their division rivals.

While Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is obviously cognizant of this fact, he has mimicked his predecessor Bobby Cox's approach by preaching that his players should not allow themselves to get too encouraged or discouraged as they play six games against the Nationals during this season's first two weeks.

The Braves have won the first two games of this year's season series and will attempt to complete a three-game sweep when they send Alex Wood to the mound to oppose Taylor Jordan in Sunday afternoon's series finale at Nationals Park.

"It doesn't matter how many times you play them," Gonzalez said. "It's early April and you've got to try to win every single game and every series. We always preach [take] two out of three. It doesn't change anything when you play them."

Since beginning their season with a three-game sweep of the Mets in New York, the Nationals have been reminded of the trouble that they have recently had against the Braves, who have won four straight games since their Opening Day loss in Milwaukee.

"It's not going to be the last time we lose two in a row. It's just happens to be against the guys who have given us trouble the last few years" Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "They seem to get the upper hand on us every night. Yeah, it gets frustrating, but I wouldn't sweat two games."

The Nationals have lost the first two games of this series with arguably their top two starting pitchers -- Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg -- on the mound. In order to prevent being swept at home by the Braves for the third time since the start of last season, they will need a strong performance from Jordan, who will be making his season debut and his 10th career start.

Wood opened this season with a dazzling seven-inning effort in Milwaukee on Tuesday. The 23-year-old southpaw's first pitch of the season was hit over the center-field wall by Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. That solo shot accounted for the only run he surrendered.

"Mentally, he's a tough cookie," Gonzalez said of Wood. "He knows what he wants to do. He prepares better than any young player I've ever been around, physically and mentally. What I mean by mentally is his side work and video. When he goes out to the mound, he knows what he wants to do. That's not something you see from a guy who has [12] starts in the Major Leagues."

Braves: Rotation has done more than exceed expectations 
There was reason for concern when the Braves began this season with an injury-depleted rotation that included Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Aaron Harang and David Hale. But through this season's first five games, Atlanta's starting pitchers have compiled 1.42 ERA -- five earned runs in 31 2/3 innings.

Wood allowed one earned run in 6 1/3 innings during his first career start against the Nationals last season. This will be his first start at Nationals Park since he limited his damage to two unearned runs over 4 2/3 innings on Sept. 18. The latter outing is best remembered as the one in which he vociferously objected to CB Bucknor's strike zone as he walked off the mound and was subsequently ejected.

Nationals: Undone by errors 
Strasburg was in command on Saturday night until Ryan Zimmerman's errant throw with two outs in the fourth inning led to two runs and shifted the momentum. This was nothing new for the Braves, who scored seven unearned runs -- the most by a National League East club -- against the Nationals last season.

Jordan was victimized by some shoddy defense in his only previous career start against the Braves. The 25-year-old right-hander tossed six solid innings last Aug. 16 at Turner Field. The two runs he surrendered were both unearned.

Zimmerman has accounted for two of the three errors the Nationals have committed through this season's first five games. The veteran third baseman also made a costly ninth-inning throwing error that helped the Braves claim the first of their 13 victories against Washington last season.

Worth noting
• The Braves totaled eight runs through their first four games, and five of those runs were scored in one game. But their offense gained some momentum during Saturday's 6-2 win. B.J. Upton, Freddie Freeman, Chris Johnson and Justin Upton all had two-hit performances.

• Nationals leadoff hitter Denard Span has batted .250 with a .348 on-base percentage during the early portion of this season. Three of his five hits have been doubles.

• The Braves went 11-16 at Nationals Park from 2010-12. But they have now won nine of the past 11 games they've played in Washington. Their only two losses during this span came when they were swept during a doubleheader last Sept. 17. Comments