On the first day of the last month of the season, Manager Davey Johnson was asked what he wants from the Washington Nationals over the rest of the year. He did not talk about developing players, staying healthy or playing for pride. He chose instead to offer a spare directive. "Swing the bat better," Johnson said.

The Nationals have no more glaring issue than their impotent offense, and it surfaced again Thursday night in a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves before 18,794 at Turner Field; the loss concluded a 1-5 road trip.

The Nationals (63-72) fell to nine games under .500, matching the lowest point of the year, a mark last reached June 9.