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Nationals 6-1 for ninth straight win over Braves: Jordan Zimmermann dominant in ATL

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The Atlanta Braves took the first matchup of the 2015 campaign from the Washington Nationals, but since then they've dropped nine straight after a 6-1 loss in the series opener tonight in Turner Field. Jordan Zimmermann dominated.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

5. Zimmermann vs the Braves... again: Nationals' starter Jordan Zimmermann was (0-3) in three June starts with a 7.63 ERA and a .386/.419/.557 line against in 15 ⅓ innings pitched before he took the mound following a seven-day layoff last week in Washington, D.C. and tossed eight scoreless against the Atlanta Braves.

Though he earned no decision when Drew Storen blew a save opportunity in the ninth inning, Zimmermann said he was happy with the results and the fact that the Nationals did end up winning when Ian Desmond connected for a walk-off sac fly in the bottom of the eleventh.

"The first inning I was a little all over the place. As the game went on I got a little more tired and I had to focus on hitting my spots more than I normally do..." -Jordan Zimmermann on MASN after start vs Braves in D.C.

"It was a good night," Zimmermann told MASN's Johnny Holliday and Phil Wood after the game.

"WIth the seven day layoff and finally getting back out there, I was a little out of sync early, but it came around after a few innings and I had a really good curveball tonight."

Though he admitted to having some concerns about being too strong after the long break between starts, he said he was able to settle in after a shaky start.

"The first inning I was a little all over the place," Zimmermann said. "As the game went on I got a little more tired and I had to focus on hitting my spots more than I normally do and I was able to get it together and the curveball, like I said, was really good and the fastball command was better later in the game."

Zimmermann's outing left him (5-5) on the year after fifteen starts, with a 3.42 ERA, 3.12 FIP, 19 walks (1.86 BB/9) and 63 Ks (6.16 K/9) in 92 IP, over which opposing hitters have put up a combined .280/.321/.360 line.

Tonight he was taking on the Braves again, in Turner Field this time, facing Atlanta for the fourth time this season.

Zimmermann took the mound in the bottom of the first with a 4-0 lead courtesy of RBI singles by Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos and a two-out, two-run home run by Clint Robinson and retired the side in order in a nine-pitch first that ended with Nick Markakis watching an 0-2 curve fall in for a called strike three.

A.J. Pierzynski doubled to right on a 93 mph 0-2 fastball in the first at bat of the Braves' second. Juan Uribe chased a 1-2 slider out of the zone for out no.1 and Zimmermann's second K. Kelly Johnson popped to center for out no.2 and Joey Terdaslovich lined out to right to end an 18-pitch second. 27 total.

Jace Peterson lined a two-out single to left in the Braves' half of the third, but Cameron Maybin lined out to a sliding Bryce Harper in right to end Zimmermann's third scoreless frame after 11 pitches. 38 overall.

Juan Uribe fooled Denard Span with a two-out bloop/pop to center on a 1-2 slider that dropped in for a single, but Kelly Johnson sent a fly to Michael Taylor in foul territory in left for out no.3 of a 16-pitch fourth that left Zimmermann at 54 total after four.

Andrelton Simmons singled through short with one down in the home-half of the fifth, but was stranded at the end of a 13-pitch frame that left Zimmermann at 67 pitches.

Nick Markakis lined a single to left with one down in the Braves' sixth, but a pop into the shift by A.J. Pierzynski and a pop behind home by Juan Uribe ended a quick, 15-pitch frame. 82 total in six scoreless.

The Braves went down in order in a quick, nine-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh that left Zimmermann at 91 pitches.

Zimmermann missed up and in and hit Jace Peterson with one out in the eighth with his 100th pitch. A two-out single to left by Nick Markakis ended Zimmermann's outing...

Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 109 P, 85 S, 6/4 GO/FO.

4. Miller Time?: Braves' starter Shelby Miller gave up a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth last week in Nationals Park, and the runner he put on, Denard Span, ended up coming around to score on the second of two hits he gave up in that inning.

"This guy is a straight pro. Before this [unlucky] run, he was on a great run and he was the same guy. I don't worry about his psyche at all." -Braves' skipper Fredi Gonzalez on Shelby Miller to MLB.com

The two hits in the sixth gave Washington's hitters three total on the night against the 24-year-old right-hander whose winless start streak was extended to seven straight outings when he received no decision in what ended up being a 2-1 loss for Atlanta in the nation's capital.

Over that stretch of winless starts, however, the former St. Louis Cardinals' 1st Round pick, acquired in the Jason Heyward deal with the Cards this winter, has put up a 2.70 ERA and a .250/.309/.335 line against in 43 ⅓ IP .

Before the streak started, following a win on May 17th in Miami, Miller was (5-1) after eight outings in his first season in Atlanta, with a 1.33 ERA and a .156/.229/.242 line against in 54 IP.

At home in Turner Field, Miller was (2-2) in six starts before tonight's with a 1.59 ERA and a .214/.269/.338 line in six outings before tonight's rematch with the NL East-leading Nationals.

Miller took the mound in the top of the first and gave up a leadoff, line drive single to left by Denard Span and an RBI double to the left-center gap by Danny Espinosa that made it 1-0 Nationals two batters in. Span took third on a groundout by Yunel Escobar, but Bryce Harper K'd swinging at a 96 mph 1-2 fastball for out no.2 before Wilson Ramos singled up the middle to bring Espinosa in for a 2-0 lead.

Clint Robinson stepped in next and battled for eight pitches before he got a hanging slider inside that he powered out to right for a two-run blast that made it 4-0 before Miller could get out of a 28-pitch first.

Miller bounced back in the second, retiring the Nationals in order in a 15-pitch frame that left him at 43 total after two.

Danny Espinosa dropped a bloop single into short left in the first at bat of the third and Yunel Escobar bunted his way on in front of Bryce Harper, whose deep flyout to left advanced both runners into scoring position.

Wilson Ramos grounded to short in the next at bat, leaving Danny Espinosa hung up off third, but a throwing error by A.J. Pierzynski in the rundown allowed the Nationals' fifth run to come in. 5-0. 20-pitch third, 63 total for Miller.

Michael Taylor drew a leadoff walk in the first at bat of the fourth, took second on a sac bunt by Jordan Zimmermann and third on a swinging bunt by Denard Span, who reached safely ahead of Miller's throw to first. Span stole second with Danny Espinosa up, leaving him 9 for 9 in stolen base attempts this season, but Espinosa K'd swinging for out no.2 and Yunel Escobar grounded to short to strand both runners. 19-pitch frame, 82 total.

Bryce Harper doubled to center to start the fifth and Clint Robinson walked one out later and both runners moved up on a passed ball with Ian Desmond up. Desmond K'd swinging for out no.2 and the 9th K of the game for Miller.

Michael Taylor got the intentionals to load them up in front of Jordan Zimmermann, who K'd swinging to end a 21-pitch frame that left Miller at 103 total.

Shelby Miller's Line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 103 P, 66 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: Washington's three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves last week in Nationals Park gave them eight-straight wins over their NL East rivals since the Braves took the season-opener.

• The Nats' streak of eight straight wins over the Braves is tied for the third-longest winning streak they've put together since relocating to the nation's capital in 2005, behind only a nine-game winning streak against the New York Mets from September 2013 to May 2014 and an 11-game winning streak over the

• In the three-game set in the nation's capital last week, the Braves scored a total of two runs.

• Michael Taylor started tonight's game on a nine-game hit streak over which he was 14 for 36 (.389/.389/.528) with five doubles. In June, the 24-year-old outfielder had a .289/.316/.389 line with one game left in the month.

• Denard Span returned to the lineup tonight after a game off in the second of two in Citizens Bank Park on Sunday looking to continue a 19-game on-base streak over which he's 24 for 79 (.304 AVG) with four doubles, 10 walks, five stolen bases and a .382 OBP. A leadoff single in the first game Span a 20-game on-base streak.

• Span was 9 for 9 in stolen base attempts this season after he swiped a bag in the fourth.

• Shelby Miller took the mound in Turner Field tonight with the third-lowest ERA in the majors, 1.94, and the fifth-lowest batting average against, .200.

• Miller, the Braves' pregame notes mention, is the first Braves' starter since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966 to post a sub-2.00 ERA over his first 15 starts.

• Nick Markakis had a streak of 398 straight games without an error in the outfield snapped in the series vs the Nationals in D.C.

2. Turning Point(s): Back-to-back hits started things off for the Nationals tonight, with Denard Span singling and scoring on an RBI double by Danny Espinosa. Espinosa scored from third on a two-out single by Wilson Ramos and Ramos came home the easy way on a two-run home run by Clint Robinson, who crushed a hanging slider up and inside and sent his 3rd home run of the year out to right in Turner Field.

4-0 Nationals after a half inning in Turner Field. Shelby Miller allowed one run on three hits in the first over his first 15 starts, 4 ER on four hits tonight.

1. The Wrap-Up: Jake Brigham made his MLB debut in the top of the sixth inning. Danny Espinosa was 3 for 4 after he doubled to left with one down. Espinosa took third on a fly to right by Yunel Escobar but was stranded there when Bryce Harper grounded out to first to end an eight-pitch frame.

Brigham collected two Ks in a 1-2-3 seventh. Denard Span walked with two out in the eighth, but Danny Espinosa K'd looking to end Brigham's third scoreless frame.

Matt Thornton came on with two on and two out in the eighth inning and got a groundout from A.J. Pierzynski to end the bottom of the inning.

Another debuting Brave, Ryan Kelly took over for Atlanta in the top of the ninth and gave up back-to-back singles by Yunel Escobar and Bryce Harper. Wilson Ramos grounded into a double play, but Escobar scored, 6-0.

David Carpenter came on for the bottom of the ninth and gave up a leadoff home run by Juan Uribe. 6-1.

Kelly Johnson singled to right for the second straight hit, but Andrelton Simmons struck out and Chris Johnson popped out to end it. Ballgame. 6-1 final.

Nationals now 43-34