Braves
Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. celebrates his double during the first inning in the first baseball game of a doubleheader against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Atlanta Braves were picked by MLB experts to win the NL East division. They snapped their season-starting four-game losing streak by edging the Washington Nationals 7-6 in a doubleheader opener Wednesday.

The Nationals batted around in the first against Max Fried and scored four; Trea Turner’s two-run shot, his second homer in two days, was the highlight.

The Braves sent nine men up in the second and plated five against Erick Fedde to lead 6-5; Ronald Acuña, Travis d’Arnaud, and starting pitcher Fried were among those who drove in runs. Ronald Acuña Jr. continues to swing a hot bat.

Ozzie Albies’ first hit of the season — a seventh-inning leadoff single — put him in position to score on a wild pitch from Wander Suero to give the Braves the insurance run.

Juan Soto led off the bottom of the seventh by walking, Starlin Castro drove him in with a double to cut Atlanta’s two-run lead in half. Another walk by Will Smith put the winning run on base with one out, but Andrew Stevenson grounded into a double play to end it.

Washington is missing nine players because of a coronavirus outbreak that led to the postponement of the team’s first four games. That included Monday’s series opener against Atlanta, which was shifted to Wednesday as the second game of the doubleheader.

Four players tested positive for COVID-19, and another five who would have been on the 26-man roster are under quarantine because they were identified through contact tracing as having potentially been exposed to the illness.

Two of the additions from the Nationals’ alternate training site — a group that one of them, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, likened to “The Replacements,” the 2000 Keanu Reeves film about football players filling in during a strike — made their MLB debuts: Cody Wilson flied out as a pinch-hitter and lefty reliever Sam Clay struck out two in a scoreless inning.

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