ATLANTA -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg threw three wild pitches in the bottom of the second inning against the Braves and was ejected by home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson long before Washington finished off an 8-7 win in 15 innings on Saturday night.
With the Nationals leading, 4-1, Jordan Schafer led off the inning and drew a walk. After that, Strasburg couldn't throw a strike. With Andrelton Simmons at the plate, Strasburg threw three consecutive wild pitches, two of them behind Simmons' back.
Hudson immediately threw Strasburg and manager Davey Johnson out of the game after the third wild pitch, which enabled Schafer to score.
"I don't know why he would try to hit Simmons," acting manager Randy Knorr said. "He was trying to go inside. He just threw one behind him. I think the umpire thought the same thing and the next one went by him and you can't let that happen. Simmons beat us the other way for quite a bit, so [Strasburg] started to go in."
Strasburg acknowledged that he didn't feel right on the mound and was missing his spots in the second inning.
"I can't really explain it. I really didn't feel good out there," he said.
Warnings had been issued to both benches after Strasburg hit Justin Upton on the backside in the first inning, after Jason Heyward's leadoff home run. Johnson protested for a few minutes after the ejections in the second and then left the game. Right-hander Tanner Roark replaced Strasburg and pitched four shutout innings.
"I don't know if he did it on purpose," Johnson said. "Obviously, he didn't have very good command. My argument to Marvin was he walked the guy on four straight pitches and he didn't have a feel for the ball. He didn't throw it over the plate. I sent my pitching coach out there and he still couldn't find the grip on the ball. And he threw him and me out. He was upset."
Tension has been in the air between the Nationals and Braves since their last series in Washington, when Bryce Harper was plunked by Julio Teheran one at-bat after homering off the righty on Aug. 6. On Friday night, Harper was hit twice more by Braves pitchers. On Saturday afternoon, Johnson was asked if Nationals pitchers would retaliate.
"I never ordered a pitcher to go after anybody, but we have a way of protecting our own," Johnson said. "I still can't imagine why he got hit at [Nationals Park]. When you have a big lead, that is not something you want to instigate. In a close ballgame last night, he got hit with a curveball. ... And then they got their best left-handed reliever [Luis Avilan ] in there and our best hitter coming up -- that's not a situation where you want to hit a guy, and for what? So it's totally ignorance or being wild."
Strasburg declined to say whether he hit Upton on purpose. The pitch didn't seem to bother Heyward, however.
"It was whatever," Heyward said. "For us, it was like, 'If it happens, big deal. If not, big deal.' We're just playing baseball, competing and having fun. It's a part of the game. You just hope nobody gets hurt."
Scott Hairston became the third member of the Nationals ejected from the game when he argued a called third strike by Hudson in the ninth inning.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashinNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.