WASHINGTON — Two East Texans — Josh Tomlin of Whitehouse and A.J. Minter of Tyler — helped the Atlanta Braves to a key win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
The Atlanta Braves are getting contributions from almost everyone on the roster, playing all three facets of the game at a high level and riding a hot streak that’s been sprinkled with a healthy portion of good luck.
With all that going for them, the NL East leaders are beginning to widen the gap between themselves and their pursuers.
Johan Camargo delivered a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the 10th inning, and Atlanta beat the Washington Nationals 4-3 Sunday to win its fifth straight series.
Overcoming an injury to standout rookie starting pitcher Mike Soroka, the Braves used the long ball and their bullpen to win the deciding matchup of a three-game set between division rivals.
For the first time since June 12, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman failed to drive in a run. His streak of 10 straight games with an RBI matched the franchise record set by Sid Gordon in August 1951.
No matter. The unlikely stars were Camargo, Josh Donaldson and 34-year-old reliever Josh Tomlin, who threw four innings of one-hit relief to cover for the loss of Soroka. Tomlin was a star at Whitehouse, Angelina and Texas Tech.
“It’s incredible. There’s a new hero every single night,” Soroka said. “We really do feel like a team. It’s awesome to see.”
Donaldson had two hits, including a home run , and Ronald Acuña Jr. also went deep for Atlanta, which expanded its lead to 6 ½ games over Philadelphia and 8 ½ over the third-place Nationals.
Soroka, a native of Canada, had the misfortune of being struck in the right arm by a pitch from Austin Voth in the third inning. Luckily for him and the Braves, x-rays were negative and the team won anyway.
Unbeaten since April 18 and sporting an 8-1 record, the 21-year-old Soroka allowed one hit, faced the minimum six batters and lowered his ERA to 2.07.
Tomlin replaced Soroka and stymied the Nationals through the sixth. He left with a 2-0 lead, which quickly dissipated in the seventh when Juan Soto homered off Grant Dayton and Gerardo Parra followed with an RBI single off Jacob Webb.
But that didn’t mar an otherwise top-notch performance by six Atlanta relievers. A.J. Minter (2-4) worked the ninth and Luke Jackson earned his 11th save despite giving up a run, two hits and a walk.
Minter played at The Brook Hill School and Texas A&M.
Camargo connected in the 10th off Tanner Rainey (1-2) after Ozzie Albies drew a one-out walk, and Atlanta held on for its seventh victory in 10 extra-inning games this season.
“This lineup and this pitching staff have been clicking on all go,” Soroka said. “We’ve got all three parts of the game going hot.”
The Nationals, on the other hand, have lost two in a row following a five-game win streak. Despite the back-to-back losses, Washington remains upbeat.
“After today and (Saturday), we know we’re capable of keeping up with any of these guys,” catcher Yan Gomes said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win today and it didn’t come our way.”