The Atlanta Braves had the game in the bag. All they needed to do was record three more outs without giving up a plethora of runs to the Washington Nationals. On Friday night, however, three outs became an eternity. The Braves collapsed, dropping a winnable game against the National League East winners 5-4 and sparking questions about the veterans on a team trying to kickstart the next generation of stars.

Braves fall apart in the ninth

Entering the final frame of the game, the Braves led 4-1. It seemed as if they had the game all locked up on the road. Jim Johnson just needed to come in to get the save. It was immediately clear that he wasn't going to jet the job done, though. He surrendered a single and a walk to the first two batters.

An RBI single from second baseman Daniel Murphy cut the deficit by one.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon did the same, cutting the deficit to one. Two batters later, a sacrifice fly tied the game - the Nationals were in business.

At that point, it became clear that the Nationals were going to pull out this victory. A Matt Kemp double play ended any scoring threat for the Braves in the top of the tenth inning. Ian Krol came on in the bottom of the inning. He gave up a single before getting Bryce Harper to fly out, giving the team some hope. Two more singles doomed the team, though, as Murphy once again drove in a run off a single - the winning run, in this instance.

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Braves had a chance

Prior to the collapse, the Braves were in decent shape. They received a solid start from R.A. Dickey, the veteran leader of the rotation who gave up just one run over the course of seven innings. In fact, he didn't even give up a hit until the sixth inning. Meanwhile, Freddie Freeman hit a solo shot in the seventh inning and drove in three of the team's four runs. It was his first home run since his 44-game absence with a fractured wrist.

Meanwhile, Max Scherzer had one of his more questionable starts for the Nationals this season. He struck out ten batters but gave up four runs and was in line for the loss before the ninth inning implosion.

At least the game was played at a normal hour, though, unlike the "rain" delayed game that started after 10 PM local time on Thursday. Their four-game series will continue on Saturday afternoon.

Julio Teheran will look to break a three-game winless streak for the Braves, while Stephen Strasburg aims to finish one of the best first halves of the season of his entire career.

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