February 28, 2012; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) taken during portrait day at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

Game 13: Nationals 3, Astros 2

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The Nationals’ motto this season might as well be “just enough to win.”

For the fifth-time this season, they got exactly enough from their offense for a one-run win, as Jayson Werth drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the eighth for the tying run and Wilson Ramos followed with a sacrifice fly to lift the Nats to a 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros.

The Nationals (10-3) continued their hottest start since moving to  Washington in 2005 with their third straight win, and eighth in nine games. They have also won every series so far this season.

Jordan Zimmermann once again deserved better than the no decision he got, with a hard luck line of one run on four hits and no walks over seven innings. He struck out three. The right-hander’s only trouble of the night came in the fourth inning, without a ball even leaving the infield. Houston’s Jordan Schafer led off with a bunt single, stole second, took third on a ground ball to Adam LaRoche and scored on Travis Buck‘s ground out. Even after Carlos Lee sigled to right, Zimmermann got Brian Bogusevic to ground out to end the inning. Other than that, he never allowed more than one baserunner in any inning.

Still, that one inning was enough to put Zimmermann in line to take the loss, thanks to the Nationals’ ineffectiveness against Houston starter Lucas Harrell, who held them to four hits and three walks over 6 2-3 innings. But Rick Ankiel doubled with one out in the bottom of the seventh and Roger Bernadina followed with a two-out double to tie the score and get Zimmermann off the hook.

Ryan Mattheus (W, 2-0) nearly gave the game right back in the top of the eighth, allowing Jason Castro‘s leadoff double and Schafer’s two-out RBI single to give the Astros a 2-1 lead.

But the Nationals mounted their eighth-inning rally off Fernando Rodriguez (L, 0-2). Danny Espinosa led off with a walk and Ryan Zimmerman followed with a single to right, his second hit of the game. LaRoche then walked against Houston lefty Wesley Wright before Werth’s and Ramos’ heroics off Rhiner Cruz. Henry Rodriguez (S, 3) worked a 1-2-3 ninth.

Champ of the game: Zimmermann, who turned in his third straight stellar start. His ERA of 1.29 is second-lowest on the starting staff, yet he does not have a win to show for it.

For the Astros, it was Harrell, who kept the Nats off balance all night.

Chump of the Game: Mattheus. Despite getting the win, he allowed two hits and a run in his only inning, and let the Astros re-take the lead.

For Houston, it was Rodriguez, who lost his control at the wrong time, allowing the tying and winning runs to reach base.

Unsung Hero: Zimmerman, who came through with his second multi-hit game of the week and remained sharp in the field, including a diving catch of Jose Altuve‘s line drive with a man on second and no one out in the eighth.

For the Astros, it was Schafer, who was 2-for-4 with a run, an RBI and his sixth stolen base of the season.

Next Game: Thursday, April 19, 7:05 p.m. against Houston. Bud Norris (0-0 3.46) vs. Edwin Jackson (1-0 2.57).

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Tags: Henry Rodriguez Jayson Werth Jordan Zimmermann Ryan Mattheus Ryan Zimmermann Wilson Ramos

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