Tension has permeated recent chapters of the Braves-Nationals rivalry as the two clubs have battled for supremacy in the National League East. Benches cleared and words were exchanged between the teams' Twitter accounts last year alone.
Feeding the tension is how close the two clubs have played each other, with one run deciding 12 of the past 20 meetings.
Atlanta claimed the latest such game, defeating Washington, 7-6, in 10 innings on Friday night at Turner Field. Braves left fielder Justin Upton tied the game with a solo homer in the eighth and drove home the winning run with a single in the 10th.
"I don't think either team going into a series has the upper hand," Upton said. "It's going to be a dogfight every time we play these guys. That's what we're going to have to do, scratch and claw and try to win ballgames."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez chalks up the close contests to "two good teams."
"If you look back at those games, I would bet that one team won and one team didn't on a miscue," Gonzalez said. "Whether it was a baserunning mistake or an error someplace that cost you two or three runs, and it becomes a one-run ballgame one way or the other.
"And I've still got to think that's the way it's going to be the rest of the year. Whoever blinks, whoever makes a mistake, has got to go get an extra out or two and try to win the ballgame."
The last one-run contest before Friday was a 2-1 Washington victory on Sunday at Nationals Park. Starters Alex Wood and Taylor Jordan dueled back and forth in that game and will do so again on Saturday night at Turner Field.
Wood made the miscue in the last contest when he left an 87-mph fastball up and in to Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who knocked it over the fence to plate what was ultimately the game-winning run.
Now facing the Nationals lineup a second time, Wood aims to do what Washington and Atlanta pitchers have made a habit of doing against each other: keeping it close and giving their clubs a chance to win.
"If you go out and compete and make pitches when you need to and kind of keep us within striking distance and keep us in the ballgame," Wood said, "then you get the chance to get a win every time out."
Nationals: Rendon's hitting streak
• Anthony Rendon came to Atlanta swinging a bat that caught the attention of Gonzalez. However, Rendon's hitting streak halted at nine games on Friday, when he finished 0-for-5.
Despite Rendon going hitless on a night that saw the Nationals total 14, Atlanta remains wary of the second baseman.
"He's a really good player," Gonzalez said. "I like him. He's a good player. He's one of those guys who's sneaky big. He looks like a little rail, skinny, but you walk up to him, he's strong. He's a big boy."
• Washington's bullpen entered Friday night leading the Majors with 48 strikeouts and ranking second with a 0.91 WHIP. The unit held strong but ultimately broke in 5 1/3 innings of relief, giving up the tying and winning runs.
Braves: Pena continues tear against Nationals
• Perhaps the biggest hit of Ramiro Pena's injury-shortened 2013 season was a two-run shot in the 10th inning on April 12 that helped the Braves beat the Nationals, 6-4, in Washington.
Pena struck again 364 days later with a three-run shot in the second inning on Friday night. He also homered against them on June 2 of last season, making three of his four homers as a Brave off of the Nationals.
He is batting .473 (9-for-19) against Washington since the start of 2013.
"It was a line drive, by the way," said Pena of his latest homer.
• Reliever Luis Avilan suffered his first career loss in 111 appearances on Thursday night. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only four pitchers that have debuted since 1900 have had as many appearances before suffering their first defeat.
Clay Rapada went 8-0 in 152 career games, Mike Gallo appeared in 135 games before his first loss, Manny Delcarmen pitched 115 games before his first loss and Josh Roenicke had appeared in 111 games.
• Jordan will face the Braves for his third consecutive start. His previous starts against Atlanta were on April 6, 2014, and Aug. 16, 2013.
• After striking out the side in the ninth inning on Friday, Craig Kimbrel has fanned 392 of the 900 (43.6 percent) batters he has faced in his career.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.