ATLANTA — Juan Soto crushed a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning and the Washington Nationals relied on their bullpen after Sean Nolin’s first-inning ejection to take a 4-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.
Soto’s 462-foot drive off Richard Rodriguez (0-1) landed about halfway up the seats in right-center and snapped a 2-all tie. Luis García’s run-scoring double off Drew Smyly in the eighth drove in Yadiel Hernández for a two-run lead.
The Braves began the night 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Philadelphia in the NL East.
Nolin was ejected after only eight pitches. He gave up a one-out single to Jorge Soler, who had three hits, before throwing a pitch behind Freddie Freeman.
Nolin hit Freeman in the hip with the next delivery, possible retaliation for Braves closer Will Smith plunking Soto with a pitch in the ninth inning of Atlanta’s 8-5 win Tuesday night.
The umpires huddled before ejecting Nolin. With Washington manager Dave Martinez wearing a soft cast following a procedure on his left ankle last Thursday, no one came out of the dugout to dispute the ejection.
After right-hander Patrick Murphy got two outs to end the inning, Freeman chatted with Soto as they walked off the field, each with an arm behind the other’s back.
Washington led 2-0 before Atlanta got homers from Adam Duvall in the fourth and Eddie Rosario in the sixth. Rosario used a golf swing to lift a low curveball from Austin Voth into the right-field seats.
Murphy, claimed off waivers from Toronto on Aug. 14, threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Voth (4-1) allowed one run in 1 2/3 innings.
Josh Bell’s 25th homer off Touki Toussaint to lead off the fourth was the first hit allowed by the right-hander. Toussaint struggled with his control, though. He hit a batter with a pitch and issued four walks, including two after Bell’s homer.
Jacob Webb loaded the bases with a two-out walk before Freeman, with his back to the infield, caught Lane Thomas’ popup in shallow right field to end the inning.
Kyle Finnegan gave up a single to Soler with two outs in the ninth before earning his eighth save on Freeman’s lineout to left field.
Nationals: C Keibert Ruiz (right knee bone bruise) had two walks in his return to the lineup. He’ll be busy the remainder of the season. “I want to get him out there and let him get accustomed to playing and let him play every day,” Martinez said. ... SS Jordy Mercer (left calf strain) began a rehab stint with Double-A Harrisburg.
Braves: OF Ronald Acuña Jr. returned to Truist Park for the first time since having season-ending surgery in July to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Acuña has been going through a rehabilitation program in Los Angeles. “I think he’s glad to be back here in Atlanta,” manager Brian Snitker said.
Nationals: RHP Erick Fedde (6-9, 5.27) is 0-3 with an 11.35 ERA in three starts against Atlanta this season.
Braves: RHP Huascar Ynoa (4-5, 3.19) has not allowed a run over 12 innings in two starts, including one win, against Washington.