Leadoff man Denard Span worked the count full and allowed his teammates to see seven pitches from Atlanta Braves' left-hander Paul Maholm before taking a 3-2 four-seamer inside that was called strike three by home plate umpire Mike Winters. Span thought it was a little inside, so did MLB.com's Gameday pitch tracker. Maholm needed just 11 pitches to retire the next two Washington Nationals in order to get off to a good start against the visiting Nats, who entered the third game of this four-game series in Turner Field with a .212/.279/.377 line against lefties so far in 2013.
Braves' leadoff man Jordan Schafer made Jordan Zimmermann work for the first out his own first inning, battling for nine pitches before grounding to Adam LaRoche and then sliding headfirst into the bag trying to beat the covering pitcher. With two down Justin Upton singled by LaRoche on Zimmermann's 13th pitch, sending a one-hopper the other way toward first that jumped over LaRoche's backhand attempt for a two-out hit, but a grounder to second by Freddie Freeman ended a 16-pitch frame by the Nats' right-handed starter. 0-0.
Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche and Tyler Moore saw a total of six pitches in the second with Moore striking out on an 0-2 slider on Maholm's 16th pitch overall in 2.0 scoreless. Evan Gattis saw nine pitches from Jordan Zimmermann before he popped up to the pitcher for the first out of the Braves' second, pushing the Nationals' starter to 25 pitches in the process. Zimmermann dropped a 2-2 slider on the outside edge at the knees that Mike Winters didn't like, and Uggla made him waste two more pitches before striking out on the eighth pitch from the Nats' starter. 17 total for the first two outs of the frame. B.J. Upton went down swinging at a full-count slider on the seventh pitch of his at bat. A 23-pitch frame had Zimmermann at 39 overall. 2.0 IP. 0-0 in Turner Field.
A 1-2 slider from Maholm got Anthony Rendon swinging. Kurt Suzuki flew to right. The Nats' first hit of the night was an infield single by Jordan Zimmermann, who reached on a grounder to short when Andrelton Simmons' throw to first pulled Freddie Freeman off the bag after the Braves' shortstop made a nice diving play on the pitcher's sharp grounder. A second single by Denard Span followed, but a groundout by Steve Lombardozzi ended the third.
A 93 mph fastball got Juan Francisco swinging for the first out of Atlanta's fourth. Paul Maholm matched Zimmermann when he ripped a low one-hopper by Adam LaRoche at first and one-upped the Nats' starter when he took second as Bryce Harper was delayed retrieving the ball. A fly to left by Schafer and a groundout to third by Simmons ended Zimmermann's third scoreless frame. The 12-pitch inning had the Nats' starter at 51 total.
Bryce Harper walked to start the Nats' fourth and scored the first of two runs that came around on a home run to left-center by Ian Desmond. The Nationals' cleanup man (for the first time in his career) hit a 1-1 curve about 390 ft and into the Turner Field seats. Desmond's fourth. 2-0 Washington. Anthony Rendon took a two-out walk from Maholm to get Kurt Suzuki to the plate, but a fly to left ended the top of the fourth inning. Jordan Zimmermann got a line drive to second and a groundout to short from Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman, respectively, and popped Evan Gattis up to end a 14-pitch, shutdown fourth after his teammates gave him a 2-0 lead. 65 pitches total.
• via @NationalsPR:
J Zimm'nn has now worked 14.0 straight scoreless innings. #Impressive, but still 6.0 inn. shy of his career high: 20.0 IP (July 8-23, 2012).— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) May 2, 2013
Paul Maholm threw a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth. Jordan Zimmermann gave up a long fly ball to left on a 94 mph 0-1 four-seamer to Dan Uggla, then came back with an 88 mph 0-2 change that had the Braves' slugger jumping out of his cleats. B.J. Upton K'd swinging through a 95 mph 1-2 heater and Juan Franciso got a 74 mph 2-2 curve. Three straight Ks and six total in five scoreless. 15.0 scoreless innings overall 77 pitches after a 12-pitch frame.
Bryce Harper hit a low liner to first Freddie Freeman somehow handled for out no.1 of the Nationals' sixth and Harper winced while holding back on a pitch from Maholm to the point that the Nationals' staff was taking a look at him in the dugout. A groundout by Ian Desmond and a swinging K by Adam LaRoche followed and Harper didn't come back out to play the field. Paul Maholm's swinging K was the fourth-straight recorded by Zimmermann, the ninth-straight out overall and the first out of the Braves' sixth. Tyler Moore caught a fly to the left field corner for out no.2 and the 10th straight batter retired by Zimmermann and the Nats' right-hander's 16th scoreless inning in a row ended on a bunt attempt by Andrelton Simmons that was handled by Anthony Rendon. 2-0 Nationals after six. 87 pitches after a 10-pitch inning.
After Tyler Moore, Anthony Rendon and Kurt Suzuki went down in order in the top of the seventh, Jordan Zimmermann struck Justin Upton out with a 94 mph 1-2 four-seamer to start the home-half of the inning. 8 Ks. 12-in-a-row set down. Make that 13-straight when Freddie Freeman flew to right. Grounder. Desmond. Out. Evan Gattis was the 14th straight Braves' batter set down. An eight pitch inning had Zimmermann at 95 pitches total. Paul Maholm needed seven pitches to retire the Nationals in order in the eighth.
Jordan Zimmermann was one of the three set down by Maholm. He came back out for the bottom of the inning at 95 overall. Dan Uggla flew to right for the 15th straight out. B.J. Upton popped to short left. Two down. 16-straight. Juan Francisco went to a full count and grounded to first. 17 in a row. 18.0 scoreless innings. 107 pitches after eight.
Braves' lefty Luis Avilan retired the Nationals in order in the top of the ninth. "Pitch it, Soriano, pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano, strike him out, Soriano!" Rafael Soriano came out for the Braves' ninth. Ramiro Pena grounded out to second. ONE!!! Jordan Schafer K'd looking at a full-count fastball. TWO!! Andrelton Simmons got up 3-0, took two strikes, fouled one off and grounded to short. Grounder. Desmond. Out. Ballgame.
Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son!!
Nationals win, 2-0 final.
Nationals now 14-14