Veteran outfielder Nick Markakis celebrated his return to the Atlanta roster with a pair of hits, and rookie Mike Soroka threw six shutout innings to help the visiting Braves defeat the Washington Nationals 5-0 on Friday.
Markakis was activated before the game after missing 44 games with a left wrist fracture. He went 2-for-4 with a double, scored a run, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and made three nice catches in left field in his return.
Soroka (12-4), who had battled a stomach virus the last two days, gave up only one hit and earned his first career win against Washington. He gave up three walks and struck out four. Soroka lowered his ERA to 2.57, second in the major leagues.
The Braves (92-57) increased their lead over the Nationals (81-65) to 9 1/2 games in the National League East. Atlanta lowered the magic number to win its second straight division championship to six.
Atlanta relievers Chris Martin, Shane Greene and Jerry Blevins each threw a scoreless inning to finish the game.
Washington starter Max Scherzer (10-6) worked five innings and allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
The Braves scored two runs in the fourth inning. Markakis doubled and came home on Matt Joyce's single. Joyce scored the second run when Dansby Swanson doubled to right with two outs.
Markakis drove in another run in the fifth inning with a long bases-loaded sacrifice fly. Ronald Acuna Jr., who led off the inning with a hit, scored his 120th run.
Ozzie Albies hit his 23rd home run, a solo shot, against reliever Tanner Rainey in the seventh inning to give the Braves a 4-0 lead. Albies went 3-for-4.
The Braves added on in the eighth when Rafael Ortega doubled home Joyce off Hunter Strickland.
Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman left the game in the fourth inning with an injured elbow. The Braves called it a precautionary move.
Washington first base coach Tim Bogar was ejected for arguing on a called check-swing strike in the eighth inning.
--Field Level Media