Freddie Freeman said it was smart for Washington's Ryan Mattheus to walk Brian McCann with first base open in the ninth inning.

Why face McCann, a six-time All-Star who hit a three-run homer earlier in the game, when the visiting Nationals could face Freeman, a rookie who didn't have a hit in the game?

Freeman seized the opportunity, delivering a single to right field to drive in Martin Prado from second base, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a 9-8 win over Washington yesterday.

"I hadn't been in that situation very often, so when they walked Mac, I got a little extra excited," Freeman said. "I wouldn't pitch to him, either."

Mattheus (2-1) walked pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad to start the bottom of the ninth. Jordan Schafer sacrificed Conrad to second before Conrad was thrown out at third on Prado's grounder to shortstop. Prado stole second base before the walk to McCann.

Freeman lined a 1-0 pitch into right field and was soon in the middle of a celebration.

"Pick your poison. I think they made a pretty good decision, but Freddie made them pay," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Craig Kimbrel (3-2) gave up a walk and a single in a scoreless ninth.

In other games:

* At Chicago, Greg Dobbs hit a two-run homer and drove in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning, leading the Florida Marlins to 7-5 victory over the Cubs. Four Florida pitchers retired 20 straight batters after Darwin Barney's single in the second. Edward Mujica (8-2) tossed a perfect seventh.

* At Houston, pinch-runner Josh Harrison scored on a passed ball for the first of Pittsburgh's three runs in the 11th and rookie Alex Presley drove in his third run of the game later in the inning to lead the Pirates to a 7-5 win over the mistake-prone Astros. Houston manager Brad Mills was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the third inning.

* At Cincinnati, Zack Cozart hit his first major league homer and the Reds used a disputed call and a pair of wild pitches by Jaime Garcia (9-4) to rally for a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. After Cozart singled in the sixth inning, Joey Votto hit a grounder to Cardinals' second baseman Skip Schumaker. His throw to get the forceout pulled shortstop Ryan Theriot off second, and umpire Mike Muchlinski ruled Cozart safe. Theriot ran to Muchlinski and screamed and pointed in his face; the umpire quickly ejected Theriot. Cozart then came around to score on a pair of wild pitches by Garcia. Homer Bailey (4-4) picked up his first win since May 16.

* At Denver, Shaun Marcum (8-3) tossed five solid innings before leaving with a strained neck and the Milwaukee Brewers held on to win consecutive road games for the first time in 6 weeks with a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

* At San Diego, Chris Stewart drove in the go-ahead run with a suicide squeeze in the 11th inning, then pounced on a bunt moments later to start a slick doubleplay that helped the San Francisco Giants hold off the Padres, 4-3. The Giants stole six bases to tie a team record.

* At Phoenix, righthander Daniel Hudson (10-5) threw a five-hitter, hit his first big-league home run and finished with three RBI, almost single-handedly leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.


* The Padres placed shortstop Jason Bartlett on paternity leave and recalled infielder Everth Cabrera from Triple A Tucson. Bartlett and his wife, Kelly, are expecting their second child.