Early offense, dominant Zimmermann lift Washington Nationals in win over Braves
By Pablo Roa
The Washington Nationals saw their eight-game losing streak come to an end at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies Sunday, but they didn’t stay in the loss column long. Powered by early offense and a dominant Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals went right back to their winning ways Tuesday night, defeating the Atlanta Braves, 6-1, to kick off a three-game series in Atlanta.
The Nationals’ offense wasted no time in getting a big lead over their rivals from the south, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning against Braves starter Shelby Miller.
Danny Espinosa got things started for the Nationals, lining an RBI double to left field to give Washington a 1-0 lead. Wilson Ramos then drove in Espinosa with an RBI single up the middle, stretching the Nationals’ lead to 2-0.
But the bulk of the damage was done by Clint Robinson, who battled through an eight-pitch at-bat before connecting on a 79 mph curveball from Miller and depositing into the seats in right field. It was Robinson’s third homer of the season, and it gave the Nationals a commanding 4-0 to start the game.
The Nationals scored another run in the top of the third, but their first inning onslaught was more than enough for Zimmermann—who turned in arguably his best pitching performance of the season.
Zimmermann was spectacular all night long, allowing no runs on six hits while striking out six batters over 7 2/3 innings. The right-hander’s dominant effort tonight comes on the heels of an equally impressive performance last week at Nationals Park when he held the Braves scoreless over eight innings.
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With his back-to-back scoreless outings against Atlanta, Zimmermann’s ERA is down to 3.16. The right-hander earned his sixth win and he has now allowed two runs or fewer in 10 of his 16 starts this season.
While Zimmermann was dominant for the Nationals, Miller struggled for the Braves. The Atlanta right-hander gave up five runs (four earned) over five innings, though he did strike out 10 batters. The Nationals added another run in the ninth inning when Yunel Escobar scored on a double-play ball off the bat of Ramos.
After Zimmermann left the game, the Nationals’ bullpen was solid. Matt Thornton finished the eighth inning without a problem. David Carpenter gave up a run in the ninth inning on a solo homer by Juan Uribe, but that was all the offense Atlanta could muster and the veteran right-hander sealed the 6-1 victory for Washington.
With the win, the Nationals have now won nine of their last 10 games. At 43-34, the team sits 3.5 games ahead of the second-place Mets in the NL East.
Next Game: Doug Fister and the Nationals look to start off the month on a high note and earn a series victory over Matt Wisler and the Braves. Fist pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.