The Atlanta Braves’ lead in the National League, which peaked at 7 ½ games, has nearly been halved. The Washington Nationals awoke Monday within four games of first place. The Nats are also four games over .500, which marks the first time since April 11 they’ve been so far on the high side of break-even, which tells us that the Nats haven’t been all that good to date. But now they’re winning, and the Braves aren’t. They haven’t won a road series since Memorial Day, and they’ve lost two of the past three series – to the Mets and the Marlins, of all teams – at Turner Field. The local nine remains in first place, which is good, but at the rate they’re going they can’t count on being there much longer. Which prompts our question this summer – but not exactly summery – Monday: Is this the beginning of the end for the 2013 Bravos, or is it merely one of those blips every team encounters over the expanse of a 162-game season? Me, I continue to believe this is the most talented Braves team of the 21st Century, and I see no reason it can’t finish first in the East. But that belief is based in large part on the conviction that the guys who haven’t hit (and you know who they are, and I’m assuming they do, too) will hit at some point. But it’s almost the All-Star break, and when you’ve gone that long without hitting anywhere near your established baseline … well, we have to wonder if that baseline still holds. Don’t we?