WASHINGTON (AP) — Kyle Wright tied for the major league lead with his 11th victory and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-4 Thursday in the opener of a four-game series.
Michael Harris II, Matt Olson and Dansby Swanson homered for Atlanta, which has won five of its last seven and leads the National League with 142 home runs. The Braves improved to 8-2 against the Nationals this season.
Juan Soto extended his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games for Washington, which has dropped seven in a row and 13 of 14. The Nationals have the worst record in the majors and fell to 7-34 against the NL East.
Wright (11-4) gave up a solo homer to Josh Bell in the first and then loaded the bases to start the second before limiting the damage to Maikel Franco’s RBI grounder. He set down 17 of the last 21 batters he faced in his seven-inning outing, allowing two runs while striking out four.
The right-hander is tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin and Houston’s Justin Verlander for the most victories in baseball. He is also the first Brave to win 11 games before the All-Star break since Jair Jurrjens had 12 in 2011.
“It’s great that I had a good first half, but obviously this is just one half,” said Wright, who lowered his ERA to 2.95. “The second half is going to be even bigger.”
Wright’s only jam after the second came when he allowed back-to-back singles to open the fifth. Soto then ripped a shot to center Harris collected and fired a dart back to the plate on one bounce just up the third base line to nab Luis García at the plate.
“I knew Soto hit it pretty hard so I had a chance to still get him at home,” Harris said. “I got it and threw it as soon as I could, and I guess the rest is history.”
Kenley Jansen gave up Franco’s one-out solo homer in the…