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Ryan Zimmerman doing what he can to keep Washington Nationals' hopes alive

Washington Nationals' infielder Ryan Zimmerman made his major league debut on his date in 2005. The '05 1st Round pick is still swinging. He hit a three-run home run last night, that lifted the Nationals to a 5-3 lead in what ended up an 8-5 loss.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Ryan Zimmerman's two-out RBI double in the first last night gave him hits in five straight games and six of the last eight. Over that stretch, the 30-year-old Nationals' first baseman is 10 for 30 (.333/.353/.800) with two doubles and four home runs. That fourth home run was a three-run blast that temporarily gave Washington a 5-3 lead over St. Louis in what ended up an 8-5 loss in Busch Stadium.

Zimmerman stepped to the plate with two on and two out in the top of the seventh and sent a meaty 84 mph 3-1 change from lefty Kevin Siegrist to deep center field for a 440 ft blast. It was Zimmerman's 13th home run of the season in 363 plate appearances.

"Just good timing. Good rhythm up there. Came through with a big hit for us tonight, just wasn't enough, but he's swinging good." -Matt Williams on Nats' slugger Ryan Zimmerman

"Just good timing," Nationals' skipper Matt Williams said after the game. "Good rhythm up there. Came through with a big hit for us tonight, just wasn't enough, but he's swinging good. Seeing the ball well."

Williams said much the same after Zimmerman hit his 12th home run of the season, a 434-foot blast to back of the Red Porch seats in Nationals Park in the Nats' 5-1 win over the Marlins this weekend.

"I think he's swinging it good," the second-year skipper explained.

"He's seeing it well. He missed a curveball tonight and hit it to short, but he was on that one too. He's feeling good up there. I think his foot's been okay, and that helps, and he's driving the ball to the middle of the diamond, which is key for him."

Zimmerman missed 39 games on the DL while dealing with plantar fasciitis. Since he returned in late July, the 11-year veteran is 30 for 129 (.275/.357/.587) with ten doubles and eight home runs in 33 games.

"He's feeling good up there. I think his foot's been okay, and that helps, and he's driving the ball to the middle of the diamond, which is key for him." -Matt Williams on Ryan Zimmerman's swing

Through 89 games and 363 PAs, the '05 1st Round pick is 74 for 363 (.231/.298/.428) with 22 doubles and 13 HRs on the year.

In his major league career, which started on this day, September 1st, in 2005, the relocated Nationals' first first-round pick has a .282/.348/.473 line.

It all started with a pinch hit appearance against right-handed Atlanta Braves' reliever Jim Brower. Zimmerman went down swinging in that at bat.

He collected his first major league hit the next day, a double to center off Philadelphia Phillies' right-hander Vincente Padilla. He's collected 1,399 since, 316 more doubles and 197 home runs.

He's played nine postseason games, going 9 for 25 with a double and two home runs in 26 postseason PAs. He's part of another push for a postseason berth, and doing what he can though the odds are against the Nationals.

Zimmerman got his first taste of a stretch run in '05.

"It's nice to be able to expose a young future star for a pennant race," former GM Jim Bowden told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that September.

"No matter how much he plays, the experience he is about to get here will be invaluable."

The Nationals fell short that season after an exciting first-half run. Zimmerman had to wait seven years to play his first postseason game, and he's been back once since.

The Nationals may not be able to catch the New York Mets this season, and missing Zimmerman for 41 games didn't help, though Clint Robinson and others filled in admirably while the first baseman was out.

Now that he's back and healthy, Zimmerman is doing what he can to keep the Nats in the fight.