Nationals top Mets, could clinch in Atlanta


Sep 14, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop

Ian Desmond

(20) greets Washington Nationals catcher

Wilson Ramos

(40) after his two run homer in the seventh inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

While the Braves continue to dig themselves into a hole, the Nationals just keep on winning. They won again Sunday afternoon in New York, beating the Mets, 3-0, and taking three out of four games against the team they’ve dominated all season.

It all started with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who turned in yet another dominant pitching performance en route to his 12th win of the season. Zimmermann dazzled, allowing just six hits while striking out five over 6 2/3 scoreless innings.

The Nationals are 9-0 in Zimmermann’s last nine starts and the right-hander’s ERA is down to an impressive 2.83.

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Unfortunately for Zimmermann and the Nationals, Mets starter Jon Niese was almost just as good for New York, holding the Nationals scoreless for the first six innings of the game. On the day, Niese went seven strong innings, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out seven.

It remained a scoreless tie until the top of the seventh inning. With one out and a runner on second base, Wilson Ramos unleashed on a 1-1 fastball from Niese and deposited it into the Mets’ bullpen for a two-run, opposite-field homer that gave the Nationals a 2-0 lead.

The Nationals made it a 3-0 game in the ninth when, with two outs and runners at the corners, Danny Espinosa got caught in a rundown between first and second base. For a moment it looked like Espinosa had run the Nationals out of a rally, but the speedy infielder managed to avoid the tag until Ian Desmond crossed home as the third run of the game for the Nationals.

After Zimmermann exited in the seventh, relievers Matt Thornton, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen shut down the Mets the rest of the way. Storen once again showed that the ninth inning belongs to him, preserving the Nationals’ 3-0 victory for his fifth save of the season.

With Sunday’s win and another loss by the Braves, the Nationals are now 85-63 on the season and lead Atlanta by 10 1/2 games in the NL East. The Magic Number to clinch the division is down to four, meaning that the Nationals could win the division if they take two out of three games in this week’s series against the Braves, which starts tonight at Turner Field.

Next Game: Stephen Strasburg (11-11, 3.46 ERA) and the Nationals take on Ervin Santana (14-8, 3.76 ERA) and the Braves Monday night in Atlanta. With the Magic Number to clinch the NL East down to four, the Nationals have a chance to win the division on the road against the reigning NL East champs.