Zimmermann's bat, seven K's push Nationals past Braves
By Mark Bowman and Jon Cooper
ATLANTA -- Jordan Zimmermann completed seven innings and aided his own cause with a bases-clearing single that propelled the Nationals to a 13-4 win over the Braves on Wednesday night in the rubber game at Turner Field.
Zimmermann's three-run single capped a four-run fourth inning that gave the Nationals a lead they would not relinquish. A.J. Pierzynski's two-run single in the first inning provided an early lead for Braves starter Alex Wood, who surrendered just two hits through the first three innings.
"The Woody we love to see and the competitiveness was there," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It was just a lot of pitches and a lot of deep counts."
While Wood was lifted after his pitch count reached 100 through five innings, Zimmermann bounced back from some early-inning struggles and retired eight of the final nine batters he faced, while striking out seven. Danny Espinosa paced the Nationals' offensive attack with his third career four-hit performance and first since 2012.
"[Zimmermann] helped himself out tonight. Any time you see that, that's good," Nats outfielder Denard Span said of the pitcher's big three-run single. "He swung the bat really well tonight. He hit the ball a lot harder than I did against Wood."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Nats' bats awake: The 13-run outburst on Tuesday night was no fluke, as the Nationals again came out swinging on Wednesday. The Nats, who had scored 14 runs during their six-game losing streak, and as many as five runs only once in their previous eight games coming into Tuesday night, totaled 26 runs during the final two games of this series. More >
Wood falters in fourth: Wood notched four strikeouts through the first two innings and exited the third inning having retired nine of the 11 batters he had faced. But the young left-hander paid the price for pitching around Tuesday night's hero Dan Uggla to load the bases with two outs in the fourth. Zimmermann then got ahead with a 3-0 count before sending a 3-2 fastball to center field to account for his three-run single. More >
Freeman's red-hot bat: There has not been much for the Braves to celebrate as they have lost seven of their past nine games. But their often maligned offense has benefited from the recent resurgence of Freddie Freeman, who has recorded 10 hits in his last 17 at-bats. Freeman damaged Zimmermann with a first-inning double and a third-inning RBI single that gave the Braves a 3-1 lead. More >
Jordan keeps his cool: Zimmermann appeared to be on the ropes in the first inning, but he limited the damage to two runs and then settled in on the way to completing a season-high seven innings. He had totaled three career RBIs before notching his three-run single in the fourth. More >
"[Zimmermann] got into a rhythm. There is a reason why I think he is their No. 1 [starter]. They just whooped us tonight, that is really all you can say about it." -- Braves third baseman Chris Johnson
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Washington came into Wednesday's game tied for second in the Majors with San Diego in two-out hits with 71 (only Kansas City had more with 75). The Nats added five more on Wednesday night to drive in eight runs.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: Washington begins the final leg of a 10-game, three-city road trip by opening a four-game series with the Mets on Thursday at Citi Field. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg will oppose Mets righty Jacob deGrom at 7:10 p.m. ET. The Nationals lost two of three against New York in the first series of 2015 at Nationals Park.
Braves: Atlanta welcomes the Reds to Turner Field on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Shelby Miller will oppose Cincinnati's Mike Leake in the opener of a four-game set. Miller has won each of his past three starts.