Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals – Box Score – March 31, 2011 – ESPN.

The Fredi Era starts off well, with the Braves getting a couple of early runs and then hanging on. In the first inning, Chipper doubled to right with two out, then came home on a single up the middle by McCann. In the second, Heyward‘s second-straight opening-day first-plate appearance homer made it 2-0. That was enough for the Braves’ pitchers today.

Derek Lowe had good stuff, striking out six and allowing just three singles and two walks through 5 2/3. The Nats’ best chance against him came in the first with back-to-back one-out singles by Werth and Zimmerman, but Adam LaRoche popped up and Michael Morse grounded out to end the threat.

Last year, Bobby often let Lowe work an inning too long, or a batter too long. Fredi didn’t do that this time. When Lowe’s 105th pitch walked Zimmerman with two out in the sixth, Fredi got the hook and brought in O’Flaherty, who allowed a flare single to LaRoche then got out of it. O’Flaherty allowed a double in the seventh, but Moylan got a strikeout to end that threat.

Fredi used Venters to pitch the eighth rather than Kimbrel, even though the Nats had two righties due up in the eighth and (after Venters’ 1-2-3) two lefties in the ninth. Since Werth and Zimmerman, the Nats’ two biggest threats, were in the eighth, that may be a sign. Kimbrel also had a 1-2-3 inning for the save.

The Braves really didn’t do much after the second. They had one threat, chasing Livan Hernandez in the seventh with a hit by McCann and a walk by Heyward, but AAG and Freeman couldn’t get a hit to stretch the lead. Chipper, McCann, and Heyward accounted for all the Braves’ baserunners, with the first two going 2-4 and Heyward 1-2 with a walk.

Off-day (because, that’s why) tomorrow then day games Saturday and Sunday. First place, may it stay that way all year.