Zimmerman, Murphy pick up slack with HRs

Zimmerman, Murphy pick up slack with HRs

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have been one of the top offensive teams in the Majors this season despite the fact that their lineup has been hammered by injuries. The latest injury came to their potential MVP candidate in Bryce Harper, who landed on the disabled list Sunday morning with a bruised left knee.

And yet the Nats have been resilient, including in their 6-2 victory in the nightcap of Sunday's split doubleheader after a marathon 24 hours with the Giants. After waiting out a 3:01 rain delay, Washington lost Harper for the time being to the injury in the first inning of a game that began Saturday night and ended early Sunday morning. Then, they played a split doubleheader and after dropping the first game, Washington came away with a victory in Game 2 thanks to a grand slam from Howie Kendrick.

The Nationals offense is so deep and with their lineup performing so well, they have several players capable of picking up the production while Harper is sidelined. They have several players making their way back from the disabled list -- Michael A. Taylor was activated Sunday while Jayson Werth and Trea Turner should begin rehab assignments soon -- to give their offense a boost.

However, Kendrick has been a huge addition for the Nationals since he joined the team last month before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But Washington will also be able to lean on hitters such as Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman, both of whom homered Sunday night and are in the midst of stellar seasons, to help carry the load.

Murphy's solo home run

"You just keep playing the game," Kendrick said. "Regardless, it sucks that Bryce got injured [Saturday] he's a key piece to this team and the lineup, a guy like that with that type of power and that ability you're always going to miss that, but at the same time we can't as a team worry about it. We have to go out and play."

Murphy delivered his 20th home run of the season, which is the second most in his career with a chance to surpass last season's career-best of 25. Zimmerman hit his 27th homer of the year, and could surpass his career high of 33 set in 2009. Those two hitters, along with third baseman Anthony Rendon, figure to pick up the slack in the middle of the order while Harper is sidelined.

"You can't lean on them any more than we've leaned on them already," manager Dusty Baker said. "Because if you lean on them, what happens if you lean on them too hard and they break down. So I have to continue to give them rest and have the other guys pick up. They've been carrying most of the weight, most of the year and I'm not going to put any more weight on them.

"I'm hoping to take some weight off of them. That's what good teams do. They take weight off each other when one guy's hot."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.