Aug 20, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) throws in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
• Believe It: "[Nats' 3B Coach] Bo Porter will tell you," Davey Johnson said, "He talks to the opposing players and they have the utmost respect for Jordan Zimmermann. Believe it." If they didn't before this year, the Nats' right-hander's performance so far this season may have changed some minds. Through 24 starts, the 26-year-old, '07 2nd Round pick has posted a league-low 2.38 ERA, a 3.25 FIP, 27 walks (1.61 BB/9) and 114 Ks (6.79 K/9). Coming off a month of July in which he earned MLB's Pitcher of the Month award for going (4-0) with a 0.97 ERA, 2.08 FIP, four walks (0.97 BB/9) and 31 K's (7.54 K/9) in six starts and 37.0 IP, the right-hander gave up as many runs in his first August start as he had allowed over the entire month of July. Zimmermann held the Houston Astros scoreless over 6.0 IP in which he struck out 11 in his second start of August on the road in Minute Maid Park, but he allowed eight hits and two runs last time out against San Francisco, leaving the game after he'd walked two, K'd four and thrown 94 pitches to the Giants in just 5.2 IP.
• Apres Le Deluge, Le Deluge?: In the nation's capital tonight, after another rain delay, Zimmermann started his 25th outing of 2012 by giving up a one-out double to center by Braves' left fielder Martin Prado and an RBI single by Jason Heyward that put Atlanta up early in the first game of three in Washington, D.C. Zimmermann missed low and away with a full-count fastball to Chipper Jones and issued a one-out walk to put two runners on, but Kurt Suzuki nailed Heyward at third on a stolen base attempt and Freddie Freeman flew out to right to limit the damage in the opening frame. 1-0 Braves. 24-pitch inning for Zimmermann. Two at bats into the bottom of the inning the score was tied after Jayson Werth snuck a chopper by Chipper Jones at third and then scored on an RBI single to left by Bryce Harper. 1-1 game. Ryan Zimmerman lined to right for the third-straight hit off Tim Hudson and both he and Harper moved up on a groundout by Michael Morse. Another groundout by Adam LaRoche brought Harper in and gave the Nats a 2-1 lead and a two-run HR to left by Ian Desmond made it 4-1 Washington. The Nats' shortstop's 18th HR of 2012 sailed out to the left field bullpen and all the way to the Harris Teeter sign on the back wall. 4-1 Nationals after one in Nats Park.
• Enough Of That Scoring: Jordan Zimmermann gave up a one-out opposite field single by Brian McCann in the second, but retired the next two batters, striking the opposing pitcher out to end a 21-pitch frame at 45 pitches overall. Jayson Werth walked with two down in the Nationals' second, but Tim Hudson got a groundout to short from Bryce Harper to end a 10-pitch inning at 31 pitches overall. Michael Bourn K'd swinging at a 2-2 fastball on Zimmermann's 51st pitch of the year. The right-hander's 53rd pitch was lined to right by Martin Prado for out no.2 and Jason Heyward went to left to end an 11-pitch top of the third. Ryan Zimmerman lined a 3-1 fastball to center for his second hit of the game. Adam LaRoche took a one-out walk from Hudson to put two on for Ian Desmond, who grounded into and inning-ending 4-6-3.
• 79 Through 4.0: Freddie Freeman walked with one down in a 10-pitch at bat then took third on Dan Uggla's 22nd double of 2012. Brian McCann popped up behind home for out no.2, but Paul Janish reached safely and a run scored on a low liner to second that Danny Espinosa knocked down before throwing late to first. 4-2 Nationals. Zimmermann was up to his 22nd pitch of the inning and 79 pitches overall when the opposing pitcher stepped in and flew to center to end the Braves' fourth. 83 pitches overall for the Nats' right-hander. Tim Hudson finished the fourth at 59 overall after a 14-pitch frame. 4-2 Nats after four.
• J-Hey Kid Crushed One: Jayson Werth charged on a low liner to right by Michael Bourn and made a sliding catch for the first out of the fifth on a play eerily reminiscent of the one on which he broke his wrist. Martin Prado singled over short with one down, 2 for 3 on the night for the Braves' outfielder. Jason Heyward got hold a 1-0 fastball in the next at bat and lined it to right and into the Nats' bullpen for his 21st HR of 2012 and a 4-4 tie in the top of the fifth. Freddie Freeman doubled off the out-of-town scoreboard for the Braves' eighth hit of the game, and Zimmermann was up to 99 pitches with two down and 102 by the time he got the third out. Tim Hudson walked Ryan Zimmerman with two down in the Nats' fifth and he was at just 68 pitches overall after Michael Morse fliew to the track in right to end the inning. Still 4-4 in Nats Park.
• Zimmermann's Line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 102 P, 68 S, 3/6 GO/FO.
• [CHOM-- No:Tom Gorzelanny took over on the mound in the sixth, giving up a leadoff walk to Brian McCann. Two outs later, the Braves' catcher was on second after a sac bunt by Tim Hudson when Michael Bourn walked to put two on for Martin Prado, who popped up to Bryce Harper in center to end the top of the sixth. Adam LaRoche corkscrewed a bloop single down the left field line to start the Nationals' half of the inning and Ian Desmond walked in a seven-pitch at bat in front of Danny Espinosa. A 2-2 splitter outside got Espinosa chasing for out no.1 and Hudson's second K. Kurt Suzuki flew to center for out no.2 and Roger Bernadina stepped in to hit for Gorzelanny with two on and two out and K'd looking at a 2-2 sinker inside. 4-4 after six.
• FIREWORKS!!!: Ryan Mattheus walked Jason Heyward to start the seventh, then got help erasing the runner when Ryan Zimmerman started a slick 5-4-3 DP on a sharp grounder to third by Chipper Jones. A two-out walk to Freddie Freeman brought Dan Uggla up, but a grounder to third and a force at second ended the Braves' seventh. Jayson Werth hit a grounder to third that Chipper Jones had lined up until it hit the bag and jumped the third baseman. Ruled a double for Werth, his 11th of 2012. Hudson's night ended there. Left-hander Jonny Venters came on to face Bryce Harper, who bunted Werth over to third. Venters put Zimmerman on after getting behind the Nats' three-hole hitter and got Michael Morse to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3. 4-4 game after seven in D.C.
• Bad Company: Brian McCann singled through the right side of the infield, but the Braves decided to return the favor and had Paul Janish bunt/give away an out after Drew Storen let the leadoff runner on. Unfortunately for Atlanta the attempted sacrifice failed to advance the runner as the Braves' shortstop popped the attempt back to the mound for the first out. Pinch hitter Eric Hinske K'd swinging as McCann stole second, barely avoiding a strike 'em out throw'em out DP. Michael Bourn stepped in with two down and walked in a seven-pitch at bat and Martin Prado got ahead 2-0, but popped up the third pitch he saw to end the Braves' eighth.
• It's Up To Werth: Adam LaRoche took a 1-0 sinker from Eric O'Flaherty to right for a leadoff single in the Nationals' eighth. An 0-2 slider got Ian Desmond swinging for out no.1. A wild pitch to Danny Espinosa moved LaRoche to second, and the Nats' second baseman worked the count full before walking. Kurt Suzuki lined to left to load the bases for Tyler Moore, but the Nats' pinch hitter popped out to the infield, leaving it up to Jayson Werth to get a run in. Werth got ahead 2-0, took a called strike, then a ball, 3-1, fouled one off 3-2... and... another foul... and flew out to warning track in left. 4-4 after eight.
• And I've Made Up My Mind: Chipper Jones lined a 3-1 sinker to center for a single off Sean Burnett in the top of the ninth. Freddie Freeman went down for a full-count sinker and sent it through the right side for the second single off the Nats' left-hander. Dan Uggla K'd looking at an 0-2 sinker that appeared to be low and Brian McCann popped up to end the Braves' half of the ninth. Chad Durbin vs Bryce Harper. 1 pitch, 1 out. Ryan Zimmerman? Groundout to short. Michael Morse took a 1-1 fastball outside to get ahead in the count, but he popped out to end the ninth and send this one to extras.
• FREE BASEBALL!!: Tyler Clippard started the tenth by blowing Paul Janish away with a high 2-2 heater. Juan Francisco flew to right for out no.2 and Michael Bourn grounded to second to end the top of the inning. Braves' lefty Luis Avilan watched a fly to right off Adam LaRoche's bat fall into Jason Heyward's glove on the track for out no.1 of the Nationals half of the frame. Ian Desmond K'd swinging for out no.2 and Espinosa K'd swinging for no.3. Michael Gonzalez took over on the mound in the eleventh and gave up a leadoff double by Martin Prado, who snuck one just inside the line in deep left. Jason Heyward lined to second in the next at bat, but Ian Desmond missed Danny Espinosa's snap throw to second base on what could have been a DP. Chipper Jones popped out to the infield for out no.2 and Gonzalez was almost out of trouble. The Nats' lefty got up 0-2 on Freddie Freeman, and struck him out with a 1-2 slider to end the top of the eleventh. Still 4-4.
• #LomboLobby!!: Steve Lombardozzi hit a one-out single to left off Luis Avilan in the bottom of the eleventh. Jayson Werth battled for 10 pitches before flying out to right field where Jason Heyward pulled the ball down from the top of the fence. Bryce Harper stepped in with one on and two out and K'd swinging before doing the whole bat breaking thing again. 3 outs. Still 4-4. Craig Stammen got a fly to right from Dan Uggla for the first out of the 12th, then got over to cover on a diving play by Adam LaRoche that robbed Brian McCann of a hit. Two down. Paul Janish took a two-out walk to get pinch hitter Reed Johnson an AB. But a fly to center ended the top of the frame. Braves' right-hander Cristhian Martinez took over on the mound. Mr. Walk-Off Himself, Ryan Zimmerman stepped in... grounded out to short. Michael Morse K'd swinging for out no.2. LaRoche? The Nats' first baseman worked the count full, but popped out to foul territory off third. 3 outs. 4-4 after 12.0.
• 13!!: Craig Stammen again for the top of the 13th, and he got Michael Bourn swinging to start the frame. Martin Prado grounded out to short and Jason Heyward K'd swinging. 3 up and down. Still 4-4. Ian Desmond led off the Nationals' 13th with a single up the middle that Dan Uggla could only pocket once he got to it in short center. Danny Espinosa bunted back to the mound and into a force at second for out no.1. Kurt Suzuki hit a chopper up the middle that had single written all over it and Danny Espinosa watched all the Braves' infielders converge and decided to take third, which he did. Runners on the corners with one out. Chad Tracy grounded to Uggla at second and he froze, unable to tag Suzuki for the DP he was looking for and he bobbled it as Espinosa hustled home and scored. 5-4 final. Eventually ruled a hit and an RBI, that's generous. Ballgame.
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Nationals now 76-46