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Two-out hitting usually Braves' strength

Two-out hitting usually Braves' strength

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The Braves took an early lead in Tuesday's game with the Nationals by scoring three first-inning runs with two outs. They scored both runs in Monday's 3-2 loss with two outs. It's something they've been doing all season -- except in the ninth inning on Tuesday.

Some teams can't seem to come through with two-out hits. But the Braves are usually different. They came into Tuesday's game leading the Majors with a .322 average in two-out situations this season.

Casey Kotchman and Jeff Francoeur got a pair of two-out hits in that three-run inning on Tuesday. The two-out at-bats seem to be the Braves' best, as they've had problems coming up with runs in other spots.

Before Tuesday's games, Atlanta led the Major Leagues with a .413 on-base percentage with two outs. The club also ranked second with an impressive .530 slugging percentage.

The Braves came up empty in that situation, however, in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 4-3 loss. They put runners on second and third with none out, and the next three batters grounded out, popped up and grounded out.

This was one time the breaks weren't with Atlanta as batters hit two balls hard, but right at Washington players.

Pitching matchup
ATL: RHP Jair Jurrjens (2-1, 2.04 ERA)
After struggling with his control while winning his first two starts of the season, Jurrjens produced one of the strongest starts of his young career and suffered his first loss on Friday night at PNC Park. The 23-year-old right-hander limited the Pirates to one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. The two walks he issued were drawn by the final two batters he faced at the end of his career-high 120-pitch effort. Jurrjens allowed three earned runs while issuing five walks in an April 12 start against the Nationals.

WSH: LHP John Lannan (0-2, 6.46 ERA)
Lannan had his best outing of the season last Friday. In his previous two outings, Lannan had allowed 10 runs in nine innings. He wasn't aggressive and was often behind in the count, but this time, Lannan lasted 6 1/3 innings and gave up just one run on three hits against the Marlins. The southpaw trusted his fastball, and he was able to get it on the inside part of the plate a lot more often. Lannan cruised through the first three innings, but he had problems in the fourth inning after allowing a solo homer to Marlins catcher John Baker. He loaded the bags following Baker's blast, but he got out of the jam without allowing another run.

Tidbits
Brian McCann returned to the starting lineup after being out the previous two games with blurriness in his left eye. He got a new contact lens after seeing a doctor in Washington on Tuesday morning. After the game, McCann said he would likely sit out Wednesday's series finale. "It's a process," the catcher said. ... The Braves scored three runs in the first inning Tuesday. They have scored 13 runs in the first this season -- it's their best inning. ... Monday's starter Derek Lowe has thrown 22 innings over his four starts. That led the National League as of Tuesday night. ... Chipper Jones improved his average to .353 with his two hits in Tuesday's loss.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• SPSO

On radio
• 640 WGST, Project 9-6-1

Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Braves (Javier Vazquez, 1-1, 3.00) at Reds (Edinson Volquez, 2-1, 6.46), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Braves (Derek Lowe, 1-1, 3.27) at Reds (Bronson Arroyo, 3-0, 4.19), 1:10 p.m. ET

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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