An emotional 48 hours in the nation's capital have confirmed that a new National League East champion will not be crowned in Washington on Wednesday night.
After the series opener between the Braves and the Nationals was postponed in light of Monday morning's shooting at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters just a few blocks east of Nationals Park, the teams reconvened at the field on Tuesday to play a day-night doubleheader. The Nationals staged an improbable ninth-inning comeback to take a 6-5 walk-off win in the first game thanks to three runs off All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel and a rare fielding error by shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Then in the nightcap, rookie Tanner Roark tossed seven shutout innings to become the first rookie this season to win seven decisions in a row, as the Nationals completed the doubleheader sweep with a 4-0 victory. The Nationals head into Wednesday night's finale looking to stay hot against an Atlanta team that has dominated the NL East all year and cap off a thrilling season series between the two division rivals on a high note.
"We like playing them," shortstop Ian Desmond said of the Braves on Tuesday. "Things may have become a little more adverse, but I think if any of us saw each other in the offseason, we'd be buddies and sit down and have a drink together or a sandwich. It's all about baseball and it doesn't really matter who is on the other side. Just play and be professional and do your job."
Ross Ohlendorf gets the ball for the Nationals on Wednesday night with a chance to bring his team closer to the final Wild Card spot in the National League -- the Nats trail the Reds by 4 1/2 games -- and force the Braves to take their celebratory champagne to Chicago ahead of a three-game series with the Cubs.
Ohlendorf has answered the call throughout the season when the Nationals have asked him to fill holes in their rotation and bullpen. He is 3-0 with a 3.34 ERA in six starts and has posted a 2.86 ERA in nine appearances out of the bullpen.
Braves rookie Alex Wood will take on the Nationals for the second time as a member of the rotation, looking to recapture the magic that lifted him to a Majors-leading 0.90 ERA in August. In his first two starts of September, the 22-year-old left-hander was knocked around by a pair of teams who were seeing him for the second time, surrendering seven earned runs in 2 1/3 innings to the Marlins and four runs in 4 2/3 innings to the Phillies. The Braves skipped Wood's spot in the rotation at the end of last week to ensure he would stay fresh for October in his first Major League season.
"It's exciting to me, because it's nice that they're looking out for me enough to where they feel like they want to give me a break so I can hopefully be as fresh as I can for the playoffs, which is what I hope they have in mind," Wood said. "It's nice, it makes me want to go out there and do even better than I already wanted to do before."
Nationals: Span tacks on two to hit streak
• Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 28 games with an opposite-field single in the fifth inning on Tuesday night, passing Colorado's Michael Cuddyer to stand alone with the longest hitting streak in the Majors this season. Earlier on Tuesday, Span had tied Cuddyer with a single up the middle in the second inning of Game 1.
• Stephen Strasburg was tabbed to start Thursday's series opener against the Marlins after a successful bullpen session on Monday afternoon. The right-hander felt tightness in his forearm last Friday while experimenting with a new pitch in the bullpen and was scratched from his start.
"I think I was trying to stretch it a little bit too aggressively," Strasburg said on Tuesday. "I've been messing around with pitches all year. The trainer said when you try to stretch it too much, your body's natural reaction is to tighten up, which is what I was feeling."
• Catcher Wilson Ramos went 1-for-3 in Tuesday afternoon's win while making his 24th consecutive start behind the plate, the longest streak of any catcher in the Majors this year. He was replaced by Jhonatan Solano for the nightcap of the doubleheader, snapping the streak at 24 games.
Braves: Veteran Johnson back in the fold
• Outfielder Reed Johnson got into a game for the first time since July 28 when he struck out in a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth inning of Game 1. Johnson was recently activated from the 15-day disabled list after a lengthy rehab process from tendinitis in his left Achilles.
• Evan Gattis continued his clutch-hitting ways with a two-run home run to give the Braves a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning of Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader. The 0-2 blast off Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard was the eighth of Gattis' 20 home runs this season that have given the Braves the lead.
• Both teams observed an extended moment of silence before Tuesday afternoon's game in remembrance of the victims of Monday's shooting. Nationals players wore Navy hats during batting practice given to them by Adm. James A Winnefeld, Jr., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"I've been all over the Naval base, and we're neighbors," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "It's just hard to believe, but that's this day and time. It's hard to believe stuff like that goes on. It's just tough."
"It's 'get back to normal, get these guys back to doing what they know how to do,' which is play baseball," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It seems like the sooner we get back to normal, the healing process starts."
• Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's solo shot in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game was his 10th home run this month and 25th of the season.
• The Braves' magic number for clinching the NL East is four.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.