In spite of the injuries they've dealt with already this season to the likes of right-hander Doug Fister, catcher Wilson Ramos, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, outfielder Bryce Harper, first baseman Adam LaRoche, bench bat Scott Hairston and now left-hander Gio Gonzalez, the Washington Nationals were 23-20 overall on the year after Sunday afternoon's 6-3 series-clinching win over the New York Mets.
The Nats were a 0.5 game behind the Braves after taking two of three from the Mets in the nation's capital.
"We've had a lot of injuries to deal with," Jordan Zimmermann told reporters after throwing six innings against New York in which he gave up eight hits, two walks and three earned runs in the series finale.
"We're playing pretty good baseball for not having a full lineup and guys 100%. We're battling every day and we know it's not easy, but we're going out there and trying to win every ballgame and play the best we can play."
Zimmermann improved to (3-1) on the year with the win, and the 27-year-old right-handed starter lowered his ERA to 3.70 from 4.50 and his FIP from 3.75 to 3.12 while adding two walks for 10 total (1.85 BB/9) and one K for 43 (7.95 K/9) in nine starts and 48 2/3 IP.
In his final inning of work on the mound in the nation's capital, Zimmermann surrendered three singles, a walk and two runs before completing an 18-pitch frame at 92 pitches overall.
"He ran out of gas," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said. "The last inning he felt a little winded, so we decided to get him out of there. But early on he was down in the zone, real good."
Drew Storen followed Zimmermann with a scoreless, 11-pitch seventh. Tyler Clippard needed 20 pitches to get through a 1-2-3 eighth and Rafael Soriano threw a 10-pitch ninth to earn his 10th save of the season.
"The bullpen has been really good," Williams told reporters. "Again, it's location with both of them and command with both of them. So, Drew displayed it today and so did Clippard. The ability -- Clippard threw David [Wright] two straight curveballs for strikes, which is kind of his third pitch. But he's got them all working so that's good. We're confident in those guys in the back of the bullpen."
The injuries the Nationals have dealt with so far in 2014, Williams said, he saw as an opportunity for some players to show what they can do.
"It's an opportunity for guys that don't ordinarily get to play every day to play and to feel good about themselves and contribute to our team," he said. "It's not ideal by any stretch, but it is what is and we have to deal with it."
The Nationals have been forced to come back repeatedly all season. They've dealt with injuries and short outings by their starters which have taxed the bullpen. They're missing two members of their Opening Day lineup and will be without one of their starters for 15 days, but they are three games over .500 after 43 games and just a .5 game out of first in the NL East after today's win.
As nice as it was to take two of three from the Mets, however, Williams was already looking forward to the series with the Cincinnati Reds that starts tomorrow night.
"There's a lot of baseball left, I know that," he said. "And we have the philosophy that good, bad or indifferent today is over with and we have to look now towards the Reds and try to beat them. And everybody in the clubhouse feels that we've got a chance every day and they prepare themselves and they're ready to go regardless of who's in the lineup and that's comforting."
• We talked about the Nationals' series-clinching win over the Mets, the idea of Ryan Zimmerman in left, the Nats' bullpen, Kevin Frandsen at second and more on the latest edition of Nats Nightly: