Once Keuchel shakes off the rust, he will hopefully live up to the expectations Atlanta had when it signed the lefty to help cement its place in the National League East.The Braves, who built a small cushion at the top of the division, still hold a 4 1/2 game advantage over the second-place Phillies. But it’s the Nationals who are hitting their stride at the right time. Washington, which sits in third place, has won five consecutive games and nine of 12. A few more wins and the Nationals could catch up to the Phillies and put pressure on the Braves. Related News Athletics pitcher Frankie Montas suspended 80 games It certainly wasn’t the start Dallas Keuchel or the Braves had in mind when the Cy Young Award winner took the mound Friday. But the loss, a 4-3 defeat to the Nationals, should not be cause for concern for either party. Keuchel was pitching in an MLB game for the first time since last year’s American League Championship series. His debut lasted five innings as he gave up eight hits and three earned runs while striking out three. MLB trade rumors: Yankees’ Brian Cashman would do ‘whatever it takes’ to land Max Scherzer MLB All-Star Game 2019: Finalists include frontrunners Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, Brewers’ Christian Yelich Their win Friday was highlighted with a home run off the bat of Yan Gomes. It was just his third of the season. Anthony Rendon had the go-ahead RBI in the fifth inning to reach the game-winning total.Stephen Strasburg was awarded the win after six innings of work where he allowed five hits and three earned runs while striking out five.Studs of the NightFreddie Freeman has been on fire. The Braves first baseman joined Andruw Jones as the only players with the franchise to have at least one RBI in nine consecutive games since they moved to Atlanta in 1966. Joe Musgrove gave up just five hits in seven one-run innings in the Pirates’ 2-1 win over the Padres. He moved to 5-7 on the season as Pittsburgh picked up its fourth win in six games.It was a heck of a night for Jeff McNeil. The Mets’ leadoff man made his first career start in right field, and it wasn’t a problem for the “Squirrel.” He hit a home run and drove in three runs as New York squeaked by the Cubs, 5-4.Walker Buehler had a career game as the Dodgers faced the Rockies. The righty had a career-high 16 strikeouts in nine innings of work. It was the most strikeouts by a Los Angeles pitcher under 25 since Ramon Martinez had 18 in a game in 1990. It was also the most innings he has pitched all season. Duds of the NightThe Phillies could have used some help from the middle of their lineup but Jay Bruce went 0 for 5 at the plate and J.T. Realmuto followed that up with an 0 for 4 night — his fourth straight hitless game. Philadelphia went on to lose 2-1 to Miami.HighlightsGary Sanchez hit a dinger. His 481-foot home run is the fourth longest for a Yankees player in the Statcast era. 481 feet.Oh my, Gary. 😱 #Crushed pic.twitter.com/Cc1uE97NrB— MLB (@MLB) June 22, 2019There must of been something in the air Friday, because these homers were going the distance. Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara tied the record for longest home run in Statcast history.5️⃣0️⃣5️⃣ FEET! 😱😱😱 pic.twitter.com/C40SrLUXIl— MLB (@MLB) June 22, 2019What’s Next?Blue Jays (27-49) at Red Sox (42-35), 4:05 p.m. ET — Boston is hoping this is the start of another winning streak. The Red Sox went the distance with the Blue Jays on Friday and won on a walkoff home run in extra innings. It was the team’s second straight win. Boston will send Brian Johnson (1-1, 10.00 ERA) to the mound as it tries to keep up with second-place Tampa Bay in the American League East.