WASHINGTON -- After getting swept by the Braves earlier this month at Nationals Park, the Nationals see their upcoming four-game series against Atlanta as being important, even though it's early in the season. The series between the two clubs starts Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Turner Field.
Entering Sunday's action, The Braves had a 2 1/2-game lead over the Nationals. In their last series, the Braves outscored the Nationals, 18-5. The Nationals not only didn't pitch well, but they played below-average defense.
"Obviously, we want to go in there and take care of business," said right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who will pitch the third game of the series. "They came [to Nationals Park] and pretty much embarrassed us. We didn't play very well that series. … We feel we are playing pretty good ball right now. We'll go down there and try to win as many ballgames as we can and win the series down there. We can try to sweep them at their place and send a message that we are a lot better than we showed [at Nationals Park]."
Center fielder Denard Span said Atlanta took Washington by surprise in the first game of the three games by coming back from a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Nationals, 6-4, in 10 innings.
"We jumped out to a big lead. They just kept chipping away and they didn't give up," Span said.
Asked if the Braves took the Nationals by surprise in the last series, outfielder Jayson Werth said, "They were hot. They were on a roll. We weren't playing real well. That happens sometimes. That's why you play each other 18 times in the division. … At the end of the year, whoever has the best record wins the division. We have a long way to go, a lot of games to play and we'll be all right."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.