Stellar Zimmermann leads Nats over Braves

Stellar Zimmermann leads Nats over Braves

ATLANTA -- It did not take the Nationals long to extend their dominance of the Braves and halt the struggles they have had against Shelby Miller. A four-run first inning provided Jordan Zimmermann more than enough support as he led Washington to a 6-1 win on Tuesday night at Turner Field.

While Miller surrendered a season-high five runs -- four earned -- over five innings, Zimmmermann scattered five hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings. The Nationals right-hander pitched around A.J. Pierzynski's second-inning leadoff double on the way to extending his consecutive scoreless innings streak against the Braves to 15 2/3 innings.

"I just had a good curveball the last two starts and felt like I could throw it when I wanted to, where I wanted to, any count to keep them off-balance," Zimmermann said. "And pound the zone and let those guys play defense."

Robinson's two-run homer

Clint Robinson's two-run homer highlighted the four-run first inning recorded against Miller, who had produced a 0.86 ERA over the only five previous starts made against Washington. The Nationals added an unearned run in the third inning and cruised toward their ninth consecutive win over the Braves.

"It puts us in a pretty big hole," Miller said. "You're down 4-0 and you're facing the Nationals, a team that has been playing well, not only against us, but just in general. It was just kind of a bad inning to happen there, especially the way Zimmermann went out there and threw."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Ramos' RBI single

Ramos & Robinson: Wilson Ramos and Robinson added a pair of runs in the first just when it seemed like Miller was about to escape the inning with limited damage. Ramos' two-out single drove in Espinosa, and Robinson's two-run homer capped the inning -- it was the first home run off of Miller since Brandon Belt's on May 28.

"I thought it was really important," Robinson said. "Shelby is one of the better starters in this league, and to be able to jump on him like that and give Jordan a little bit of cushion to pitch with, I thought that was huge." More >

Miller strikes out Zimmermann

Uncharacteristic start: Miller had surrendered a first-inning hit in just two of his previous 15 starts this year. But by the time he'd recorded his third out, he had already allowed more first-inning hits on Tuesday (four) than he previously had all season (three). The right-hander notched a season-high 10 strikeouts and surrendered just the one unearned run after the first inning. His ERA jumped from 1.94 to 2.20. More >

Espinosa's RBI double

Espinosa's hot day: After driving in the game's first run in the first inning with a double, second baseman Danny Espinosa stayed hot at the plate. He singled and scored again in the third inning, and doubled once again in the sixth. Espinosa entered Tuesday hitting .251, but after going 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI, he pushed that up to .259 .

Brigham fans Ramos

Brigham's debut: Jake Brigham completed three scoreless innings of relief while experiencing the Major League debut he had dreamed about since beginning his professional career in 2006. The 27-year-old right-hander was with Double-A Mississippi less than two weeks ago. But his recent success earned him a chance to become Atlanta's latest long reliever. More >

QUOTABLE

"It's nice to do that in the first inning against anybody, but especially somebody as good as Shelby because he's very stingy the later in the game goes. [It was a] good night for us offensively, especially in the first inning." -- Nationals manager Matt Williams, on Washington's four-run first inning

"[Freddie Freeman] is a presence we've been missing and we're going to miss it for a little while longer, so we've got to figure out how to score some runs." -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose club has averaged two runs per game since Freeman was sidelined with a right wrist injury

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Nationals' nine-game win streak against the Braves dates back to April 28, when they erased a nine-run deficit and won courtesy of Dan Uggla's ninth-inning homer. Going back to the fifth inning of that game, Washington has outscored Atlanta 64-21.

WHAT'S NEXT
Nationals: Washington will send Doug Fister to the mound for Game 2 at Turner Field at 7:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday night. Fister is 4-1 against the Braves throughout his career, and in his six starts against them, he has posted a 0.97 WHIP and 2.18 ERA.

Braves: Atlanta will counter with Matt Wisler, who will be making his third career appearance. Wisler completed eight stellar innings in his June 19 Major League debut against the Mets. But the 22-year-old right-hander lasted just four innings against the Nationals last week.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Carlos Collazo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.