Braves overcome 9-0 deficit, beat Nationals in 11 innings

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One can’t help but wonder just how late Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard were out last night.

Down 9-0 after five innings, the Braves rallied to beat the Nationals 11-10 in 11 innings Friday and cut Washington’s NL East lead down to 2 1/2 games.

It was the first time since 1987 that the Braves had come from 9-0 down to win. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said afterwards that it was, “Arguably the worst game I’ve ever managed.”

This one was all Stephen Strasburg early, but the Braves got to the young All-Star for four runs in the sixth and kept piling on from there. Storen, just back from elbow surgery, gave up his first two runs of the season in the eighth, with Sean Burnett allowing two more in the frame. Clippard then blew his third save when he gave up two runs in the ninth, putting the Nationals in a 10-9 hole.

Still, the biggest surprise may have come in the bottom of the ninth, with David Espinosa homered off Craig Kimbrel. It was just the fifth homer allowed by Kimbrel in 135 2/3 career innings, and it resulted in his second blown save of the year. He entered with a 1.22 ERA.

The Braves went on to win in 11 after Paul Janish singled in Dan Uggla. Chad Durbin pitched a perfect inning for his first save since 2009.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.