The Nationals, their fans, and surely pitcher Stephen Strasburg keep thinking this is the game, this is the series, when the tables will be turned against the Braves.

But even after Craig Kimbrel gave up a two-run, game-tying homer by Anthony Rendon in the ninth inning to blow a save Friday, the Braves ratcheted up the Nationals’ frustrations some more by pulling out a 6-4 win in 13 innings to clinch at least a split of the four-game series.

Ryan Buchter pitched the 12th inning and got the win in his major league debut after arriving from Triple-A Gwinnett earlier Friday. Jordan Walden pitched a perfect 13th inning for his second save.

Evan Gattis had a go-ahead single in the 13th and the Braves added another run on a fielder’s choice groundout by Andrelton Simmons to improve to 7-1 against the Nationals this season and move back ahead of them by a ½ game in the National League East standings.

The Braves also won for the first time in four extra-inning games over two weeks including three 13-inning games in the past week.

This NL East rivalry for 22 months has been entirely one-sided in favor of the the Braves, who won for the 24th time in 31 games against the Nationals since late August 2012.

Mike Minor struck out 11 in seven innings and outpitched Strasburg, who gave up a season-high nine hits and four runs and is winless against the Braves in seven starts over two season. Minor was in position for his first win since May 19 before Kimbrel entered with a 4-2 lead and gave up the two-out homer by Rendon, after walking pinch-hitter Nate McLouth to start the inning.

Braves reliever Juan Jaime made an auspicious major league debut, striking out two in the 11th inning including Rendon with two out and runner on. Jaime consistently pumped 97-98 mph fastballs, and froze Sandy Leon and Rendon with 76- and 73-mph curveballs for called third strikes.

That worked so well the Braves did it again in the 12th, when left-hander Buchter got three outs in three batters. He struck out Jayson Werth on three pitches to start the inning, walked lefty Adam LaRoche on four pitches, then got Ryan Zimmerman to ground into an inning-ending double play.
In an odd coincidence, both Buchter, 27, and Jaime, 26, began their professional careers in the Nationals organization. Buchter was a 33rd-round draft pick in 2005 and Jaime signed as an undrafted free agent in 2004.

Both were thrust into high-pressure situations Friday when the Braves rested rookie relievers Shae Simmons and David Hale due to recent heavy usage.

Nationals relievers retired 18 consecutive batters following Tommy La Stella’s leadoff double in the seventh inning. But the Braves finally broke through in the 13th against lefty Jerry Blevins. B.J. Upton drew a leadoff walk before Freddie Freeman singled and Gattis drove in the go-ahead run with a single to left field that drew applause from a contingent of Braves fans seated in the left-field bleachers.