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MIA@ATL: Beachy dominant to earn first career shutout

Sunday's series finale between the Braves and the Nationals -- who won the first two games of the series -- will feature Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy and Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, each sporting a sub-2.00 ERA. The game will be on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball at 8:05 ET.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson is looking forward to seeing Beachy and Gonzalez duel it out, but isn't sure what to do with his afternoon as he waits for game time.

"I've got a long time to sit on Sunday afternoon, because I've got to wait until 8 o'clock," he said. "It's terrible being popular."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was also unsure of how to structure his Sunday without an afternoon game.

"I don't know what I'm going to do on a Sunday until 8 o'clock at night without baseball," he said.

Beachy and Gio Gonzalez will likely be worth the wait, however. Gio Gonzalez leads the National League with 69 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings, while Beachy leads the Major Leagues with a 1.77 ERA.

"[They're] two awfully good pitchers, and they're both throwing awfully well," Johnson said. "I knew that coming in it should be an exciting weekend."

Braves: Beachy looks to stop Braves' six-game skid
For the first time since April 2010, the Braves have lost six games in a row. Though the season is just two months old, Beachy knows how important it is to beat other teams in the NL East.

Sunday, he will get an opportunity to prove he can be a stopper for the Braves as they try to salvage one game of their weekend series against the Nationals.

"Every divisional game all year long is important," Beachy said. "Hopefully we can put up some runs on [Gonzalez] and win a game tomorrow."

• The Braves played Saturday's game against the Nationals with a short bench, as catcher Brian McCann was limited to pinch-hitting and first baseman Freddie Freeman and catcher David Ross were unavailable.

McCann is still recovering from the effects of the flu and might be able to start Sunday. Ross has a strained right groin and will likely be out a few more days. Freeman was a late scratch Saturday due to an ongoing issue with dry eyes. Fredi Gonzalez said he hopes to have Freeman back in the lineup Sunday.

"He's trying to get in there," Fredi Gonzalez said. "Maybe at night it'll be a little better."

Nationals: Offense breaks out in Atlanta
The Nationals have scored 15 runs in the first two games of their series against the Braves, both victories. The 15 runs are the most the Nationals have combined for in back-to-back games this season.

The offensive outburst has not come as a surprise to Johnson, who has said all season he was confident his team would start hitting.

"It's been outstanding," Johnson said. "I know they're talented, I know they're capable of it."

• Outfielder Bryce Harper went 2-for-4 with a home run Saturday to extend his hitting streak to six games. He is 10-for-23 (.435) during the streak.

Worth noting
• Gio Gonzalez, who was traded to the Nationals in the offseason after spending the first four years of his career with the Athletics, will make his first start against the Braves. Only shortstop Jack Wilson, who spent parts of three seasons with the Mariners, has faced Gio Gonzalez.

• The Nationals have won four straight games against the Braves dating back to last September.

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