By JOSEPH WHITE
AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) Gavin Floyd had never heard the name of the piece of bone he broke inside his elbow. Manager Fredi Gonzalez didn’t even try to pronounce it.
But no matter how you say “olecranon,” it spells more bad news for the Atlanta Braves pitching staff.
Floyd, recently recovered from elbow ligament replacement surgery, fractured the bony tip of the forearm bone that sticks out behind the elbow when he threw a curveball to lead off the seventh inning of Thursday night’s 3-0 win over the Washington Nationals.
“It was fine until that last pitch,” Floyd said. “I felt a pop.”
It’s the latest setback for an injury-riddled staff that lost starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy and reliever Cory Gearrin to Tommy John surgery during spring training, upending a major plank in the Braves’ plans to repeat as NL East champions.
“It’s been a tough one, ever since spring training,” third baseman Chris Johnson said. “But we’ve got to keep moving forward. Hopefully it’s nothing too bad and we can get him back soon.”
Floyd will return to Atlanta on Friday to be examined by team doctors. The injury is so rare that the Braves couldn’t provide even a guess of a timetable for his return. A similar injury ended the career of Detroit Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya in 2010.
“In the big picture, I think he’s going to be OK,” Gonzalez said.
Floyd flexed his pitching arm awkwardly after the fateful pitch, which turned into a long foul ball by Jayson Werth down the left field line. After an examination by the Braves’ trainer on the mound, Floyd left the game for reliever Anthony Varvaro.
“It was a weird spot,” Floyd said. “It was a little sore before, but not in the area that I had surgery.”
Floyd (2-2) was making his ninth start since recovering from Tommy John surgery, but Gonzalez said the two injuries are not related.
“What a shame,” Gonzalez said. “The guy comes all the way back from Tommy John. … I feel for the young man.”
Floyd had been working on a two-hit shutout. He threw only 64 pitches, walking one and striking out six to drop his ERA to 2.65 in his first season with Atlanta.
“That’s the best I’ve seen him look,” Johnson said. “For those first six innings, he was dealing, he was nasty, so that’s really a tough break.”
Floyd’s career record is 72-72 over 11 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox and Braves.
“I felt like I was getting better and better, so it’s definitely disappointing,” Floyd said. “Definitely not what I envisioned to happen. I haven’t had any pain since the surgery.”
The win moved the Braves within a half-game of the first-place Nationals atop the NL East as the division rivals opened a four-game series. Atlanta had been trending downward recently, losing eight of 12 entering the series.
Johnson drove in all three of the Braves’ runs, two on a bases-loaded single in the fourth and another on a line drive that smacked reliever Jerry Blevins’ left knee in the eighth. Blevins was examined by the Nationals’ trainer but remained in the game to face one more batter.
Jordan Zimmermann (5-4), coming off consecutive complete games, had his second straight hard-luck start for the Nationals. He lost 1-0 to Lance Lynn and the St. Louis Cardinals last Friday, and this time he allowed only two runs and seven hits through seven innings.
Zimmermann has also had Tommy John surgery and naturally empathized with Floyd.
“You never want another pitcher to get injured. I don’t know what really happened,” Zimmermann said. “Obviously, it was bad enough for him to come out of the game. Hopefully, he’ll be all right.”
NOTES: Evan Gattis extended his hitting streak to 18 games – the longest active streak in the majors and best ever by a Braves catcher. … Craig Kimbrel picked up his 21st save for the Braves, who have won 23 of 30 against the Nationals. … Nationals OF Bryce Harper took on-field batting practice before the game for the first time since undergoing thumb surgery last month. He’s expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week before re-joining the team in mid-July. . Nationals Manager Matt Williams said C Wilson Ramos (strained right hamstring) should be ready to re-join the team when eligible to come off of the DL June 26. Ramos will begin a rehab assignment over the weekend or the beginning of next week. . Braves OF Justin Upton was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game with an inner ear ailment causing dizziness, but he appeared as pinch-hitter in the eighth inning and grounded out. . The Braves placed RHP Pedro Beato on the DL with a sore right elbow. He was called up to the Braves earlier this week and pitched in relief both Tuesday and Wednesday. The Braves promoted RHP Juan Jaime from Triple-A Gwinnett, his first call-up to the majors.
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Updated June 19, 2014
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