WASHINGTON -- Fresh off being named the National League Player of the Month earlier in the day, Ryan Zimmerman continued his hot streak at the plate, doubling home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning to lead the Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the D-backs Wednesday night at Nationals Park.
The win was preserved thanks to a strong relief outing from right-hander Jacob Turner, who threw four scoreless innings with four strikeouts and no walks to seal the win.
"It was very impressive," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "He kept throwing strikes, and when he fell behind he threw another strike. They didn't hit the ball very hard off him except for that last double. They got a good lineup over there, and he was dealing."
Zimmerman, who went 2-for-3, extended his hitting streak to 10 in a row, and he has recorded a multi-hit game in six consecutive games. His double spoiled a strong outing from D-backs left-hander Robbie Ray, who struck out 10 and allowed two runs on four hits in six innings. With Ray's performance, Arizona's pitching staff has recorded double-digit strikeouts in nine consecutive games, the first team in Major League history to do so.
But the D-backs offense could not capitalize on a shaky start from left-hander Gio Gonzalez. He surrendered a solo homer in the first inning to Chris Owings, but did not yield another run in five erratic innings where he walked seven but struck out eight.
"He did a good job of making pitches when he had to," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of Gonzalez. "We had some situations -- although they were very limited -- situations to score some runs, and we didn't do it."
Then the Nats turned it over to Turner, who had been in the running for the team's fifth starter, but after this extended outing, Baker said right-hander A.J. Cole is likely to start this weekend in Philadelphia.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Zim strikes again: Zimmerman's torrid stretch continued Wednesday night, as he delivered the go-ahead RBI double in the sixth inning off Ray. The veteran first baseman's hit gave him his 30th RBI, and his average now sits at a league-leading .427.
"His exit velocity is unbelievable and he's getting some exit hits," Baker said. "And at the right time. He's clutching up for us big-time. He's continuing the way he was in April."
Turner shuts the door: With their closer Shawn Kelley (sick) unavailable and their bullpen shorthanded, Turner came out for his fourth inning in the ninth to try and seal this Nationals victory. He surrendered a two-out double to A.J. Pollock to put the tying run in scoring position, but Turner promptly forced Owings to ground out to finish the game.
"Once I batted for myself I felt like I should finish the game," Turner said. "I felt like as the game went on it kind of got me in more of a starter's mode especially after the second [inning], kind of making adjustments in the game. Really felt like a starter at that point, just trying to get the team innings." More >
WHAT'S NEXT D-backs: Arizona will recall right hander Braden Shipley to make his 2017 debut in Thursday afternoon's rubber game. The 25-year-old went 3-1 with a 4.18 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Reno. First pitch is at 10:05 a.m. MT.
Nationals: A former first-round pick of the D-backs in 2006, Max Scherzer will take the mound for the Nationals at 1:05 p.m. ET. In five career starts against his first organization, Scherzer is 4-0 with a 2.65 ERA.