ATLANTA -- After a rain delay of three hours and 41 minutes on Saturday night at Turner Field, the Nationals and Braves found themselves in pitchers' duel. When it was over, the Nationals prevailed, 4-1, in 11 innings early Sunday morning.
With the victory, the Nationals increased their lead over the Braves in the National League East to 4 1/2 games.
"Considering what happened today, [the win] was pretty good for us. We fought them all the way," Nationals manager Matt Williams said.
The game started at 10:51 p.m. ET on Saturday and it ended at 2:29 a.m. on Sunday. Instead of playing a doubleheader on Sunday, the two teams decided to stick around because they weren't scheduled to play again until Sunday night at 8:05 p.m.
Waiting for the rain to subside paid off for the Nationals. With the score tied at 1, the Nationals rallied and scored three runs in the 11th inning. Right-hander David Carpenter started the inning for Atlanta and allowed consecutive singles to Anthony Rendon and Adam LaRoche. After Ian Desmond lined out to left fielder Justin Upton, Carpenter was taken out of the game in favor of left-hander James Russell.
That brought up Bryce Harper, who walked on five pitches to load the bases. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez then brought in right-hander Anthony Varvaro. Wilson Ramos came to the plate and gave himself a birthday present, as he turned 27 on Sunday. He swung at the first pitch and singled to center field, scoring Rendon.
Kevin Frandsen followed and put the game away when he doubled over the head of right fielder Jason Heyward, scoring LaRoche and Harper.
"Wilson had a huge at-bat," Frandsen said. "Nobody probably talks about it enough, but Bryce's at-bat against Russell was big. You have a lefty-lefty specialist and Bryce loads the bases for Willie. Willie does his thing. He had one heck of an at-bat. I was fortunate enough to get the ball over Heyward's head or deep enough to get a run in. It worked out."
Rafael Soriano shut down the Braves in the bottom of the 11th inning and picked up his 26th save of the season.
"It's a big win because it's two teams competing [hard against] each other -- late start and all that," Frandsen said. "You saw two teams just going at it. It's one of those things."
The rain delay had no effect on the starting pitchers. In fact, they were outstanding. Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark pitched seven innings, allowing one run on six hits while striking out six.
Braves right-hander Aaron Harang also pitched seven innings, allowing one run on seven hits while striking out two.
Washington scored first, and that came in the sixth inning off Harang. LaRoche led off and swung at a 2-0 pitch, sending the ball over the right-field wall for his 16th home run of the season.
"Harang gave us a [good] opportunity," Gonzalez said. "When it's the 10th inning there at 2 in the morning, you forget how well Harang pitched."
Atlanta tied the game in the bottom of the inning. The Braves had the bases loaded with no outs, but Roark managed to avoid major trouble by allowing just a sacrifice fly to Heyward that scored Tommy La Stella.
"Leadoff walks always hurt and it showed tonight. I tried not to give in and keep going at them, keep attacking them, keep making my pitches," Roark said. "Most of the time when the bases are loaded, you have to think, 'OK, the runner on third most likely is going to score. Best-case scenario, you try to get a ground-ball double play.' That's what I was thinking. I came out with only one run. It was big."
Big enough to keep the Nationals in the game before winning it in the 11th.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.