Braves left-hander Alex Wood and Nationals southpaw Gio Gonzalez are set to square off in the series finale between the top two teams in the National League East on Sunday night, when second-place Atlanta takes on division-leading Washington at Turner Field.
The Nationals evened the series with a 4-1 win in 11 innings in a game that ended in the early hours of Sunday morning due to a rain delay that lasted three hours and 41 minutes. Washington extended its lead over Atlanta in the NL East to 4 1/2 games.
Wood is 7-9 with a 3.20 ERA for the Braves this season, the ninth loss coming in his latest start against the Mariners. Wood, battling flu-like symptoms, was bested by Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, giving up four runs in six innings, although only one of the runs was earned.
"He was sick and almost didn't make this start," manager Fredi Gonzalez said after the game. "I'm sure he didn't feel 100 percent, but he gave us a heck of an outing against one of the premier pitchers in the American League, if not in Major League Baseball."
Wood has faced the Nationals twice this season in back-to-back starts in April. He lost the first outing despite allowing just two runs in seven innings, but won his rematch against the Nats six days later, throwing five innings, allowing one run and striking out eight.
Gonzalez is having a down year for Washington, as he is just 6-8 with a 4.01 ERA. He has lost three straight starts -- the latest a six-inning, four-run outing against the Mets -- and four consecutive decisions, with his last win coming more than a month ago, on July 5 against the Cubs.
Gonzalez has pitched once against the Braves this season. He lost in Atlanta on April 13 in one of his worst games of the year, giving up six earned runs, nine hits, four walks and two home runs in six innings of work.
Nationals: Werth scratched with sore shoulder, ankle
Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth was scheduled to hit third against the Braves on Saturday night, but at around 6 p.m. ET, Werth was scratched from the lineup because of right shoulder and right ankle issues.
Werth injured his ankle trying to stretch a single into a double against the Marlins on July 28. It's not known when Werth hurt the shoulder. Manager Matt Williams said that Werth hurt the shoulder making a catch at Nationals Park recently.
Werth had the day off Friday, and Williams thought Werth was going to play Saturday. Williams said Werth was "getting worked on right now."
"[Werth] has had a little bit of an issue with [the shoulder]. It has been sore on occasion," Williams said. "If he takes a funky swing or swings at a bad ball or something, then he gets sore again. He has been playing with it for a week and a half and he is playing pretty well, too."
Braves: Braves eye Tuesday return for Simmons
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is hopeful shortstop Andrelton Simmons will return to the lineup on Tuesday against the Dodgers. Simmons has been sidelined since spraining his left ankle this past Tuesday.
"He's getting better, he's progressing," Gonzalez said. "We'll keep doing the same thing that we're doing, and maybe by Tuesday we can get him in a game."
Gonzalez said Friday that he wanted to avoid the disabled list for Simmons, whose left ankle was wrapped in tape one day after he was wearing an air cast. Simmons reported feeling better on Friday and has not had a setback since then.
"I don't know exactly what the treatments are, the difference between the air cast and the wrap and the heat," Gonzalez said. "Every time I look in there, he's got a different contraption on his leg, but at the very least, he's getting better."
• Braves outfielder Jason Heyward celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday, the fourth time he has played on his birthday. Heyward has gone 3-for-11 with a double and a solo home run in his four birthday games, three of which were starts.
• Nationals outfielder Nate McLouth, who is on the disabled list because of right shoulder inflammation, said he was having issues with the shoulder before making a diving play against the Marlins on July 28. In fact, he said he's had problems with the shoulder since early in the season.
McLouth is currently doing exercises to strengthen the shoulder, and he hopes to start participating in baseball activities soon. McLouth hopes to return to the team before the end of August.
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.