Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (49) singles in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. The Braves will take on the Nationals in a three-game series starting Friday. (USA TODAY Sports: Joy R. Absalon)
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves got the early jump on the Washington Nationals last year, winning the first five meetings. Now they are trying set the head-to-head tone early again.
After winning two of three games in Washington last weekend, the Braves will try to cool off the first-place Nationals during a three-game series at Turner Field beginning Friday night.
The Nationals (7-2) took three straight from Miami in Washington for their second series sweep of the young season and have lost only to the Braves, who fell to 5-4 after losing two of three games to the New York Mets, including Thursday’s 6-4 setback.
Starter Julio Teheran, who won 6-2 last Saturday for his third straight victory against the Nationals, will start the opener and that should just intensify things.
Teheran hit Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper with a pitch last year, stirring things up, and there is no love loss between the two teams, which have alternated winning the last two National League East championships.
The Braves won 19 of past 26 games with Nationals.
“We got off to a good start against the Nationals last year and we want to do it again,” right fielder Jason Heyward said. “We know they’re a good team and I think they feel the same about us. Nothing has really changed. We’ve had some great games and I’m sure we will again this year. It’s always exiting when we play them.
“It’s not a rivalry like the Dodgers and Giants or Cardinals and Cubs. There isn’t the history. But there is still a little more excitement when we play. It’s always fun.”
Braves’ Simmons (wrist) out of lineup again
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons of the Atlanta Braves was out of the lineup on Friday night against the Washington Nationals for the second straight game because of a jammed right wrist.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez has indicated that Simmons, who was injured on a collision at home plate on Wednesday, could be back in the lineup either Saturday or Sunday against the Nationals.
Ramiro Pena again replaced Simmons, who is batting .321 in eight games, at shortstop.