WASHINGTON — Craig Kimbrel had converted 37 consecutive save chances since early May. Andrelton Simmons began the day with the second-best fielding percentage among National League shortstops.
Both faltered in the ninth inning on Tuesday, when the Washington Nationals overcame a two-run deficit to beat the Atlanta Braves 6-5 in the makeup of a series opener postponed by a shooting rampage a day earlier at the nearby Navy Yard.
Simmons allowed Denard Span’s grounder off Kimbrel to bounce through his legs as two runs scored on the game-ending error.
“The numbers were probably pretty well stacked against us,” Washington’s Ian Desmond said. “But they have been for a while now, so we’re just going out and playing.”
Pinch-hitter Chad Tracy had an RBI grounder against Kimbrel as Washington kept Atlanta’s magic number at four for clinching the NL East for the first time since the Braves’ streak of 11 consecutive division titles from 1995-05. A sweep of the day-night doubleheader would have sealed the division for Atlanta.
Washington closed within 41/2 games of Cincinnati for the NL’s second wild-card berth with 12 games remaining.