Forget for a moment all those losses to the Atlanta Braves since the start of the 2013 season, and the Washington Nationals’ past two games bring a small measure of delight. After being beaten down in every way for more than a year by their fiercest division rivals, including in the first two games of this weekend series, the Nationals salvaged their pride and secured a split of a four-game set against the Braves with Sunday’s 4-1 win. If anything, they may have finally discovered a formula and convinced themselves they can indeed beat the Braves.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” left fielder Ryan Zimmerman said. Added reliever Craig Stammen: “I think the odds were in our favor to finally win a game against them. Two in a row is definitely good.”

Behind a strong showing from Tanner Roark and the bullpen — and a few timely hits — the Nationals topped the Braves to split the series and move ahead by 11 / 2 games in the National League East, exactly where they were when the series at Nationals Park began on Thursday. Although the Nationals are still 9-20 against the Braves since 2013 and 3-7 this season, the past two games provided glimmers of hope after a rough first two games.