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Atlanta Braves Opening Day 2011 Score: Jason Heyward Homers As Atlanta Shuts Out Nationals, 2-0

The Braves took advantage of early hits by scoring two quick runs, which proved to be all they needed. The pitching staff combined to shut out the Nationals, winning 2-0 on Opening Day.

Braves starter Derek Lowe pitched 5.2 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out six. The three hits were singles in the first two innings, and he didn't allow a hit after the second. Following a few command issues and a walk of Ryan Zimmerman with two outs in the sixth, Fredi Gonzalez made the correct move of pulling him in favor of Eric O'Flaherty against a left-hander.

Lowe's slider was used effectively, throwing it early in the count and recording two strikeouts on it. The sinker was sharp and diving hard. Even the changeup was used effectively in spots, including one strikeout of Adam LaRoche on a 3-2 count. Lowe's stuff was on.

The Braves scored two quick runs in the first and second. Chipper Jones doubled with two outs in the first, followed by a Brian McCann single that scored him. Jason Heyward homered in the second inning on a high curve that put them ahead by two, where it remained.

The Braves had just two hits following the first two innings, both on singles by Jones and McCann. The only other baserunner was a walk by Heyward.

Jones went 2-4 with a double, McCann went 2-4 with a RBI and Heyward went 1-2 with a home run, RBI and walk. The rest of the team went hitless, including the combination of Martin Prado and Nate McLouth at 0-8 at the top of the order.

Nationals starter Livan Hernandez allowed two runs on four hits in 6.1 innings, walking none and striking out three. Todd Coffey and Sean Burnett combined for two scoreless innings behind him.

Behind Lowe, Eric O'Flaherty gave up two hits but received three outs between the sixth and seventh. Peter Moylan received the final out in the seventh on a strikeout with a runner on third. Jonny Venters pitched a scoreless eighth on seven pitches. Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth on two strikeouts of Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel.

After an off day, the Braves return to action Saturday against the Nationals at 1:05. Tommy Hanson faces John Lannan.

For more on the series, Braves fans should visit Talking Chop, and Nationals fans should visit Federal Baseball.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.