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Washington Nationals’ lineup for series finale with the Giants in San Francisco...

Washington’s Nationals try to avoid a sweep in AT&T Park and a fifth straight loss overall in the series finale with San Francisco’s Giants...

Washington Nationals  v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With the Washington Nationals down 4-3 in the eighth last night in AT&T Park, San Francisco Giants’ right-hander Sam Dyson gave up a one-out double by Howie Kendrick, setting Bryce Harper up with an RBI opportunity. Dyson decided against pitching to Harper, however, and opted to go after Ryan Zimmerman, issuing Harper his major league-leading 30th free pass of 2018.

Zimmerman stepped in next and hit a 94 mph first-pitch fastball to short to start an inning-ending, and rally-killing, 6-4-3 double play.

The early-season struggles for the Nationals’ first baseman have led several reporters to ask first-year skipper Davey Martinez if it’s been troublesome trying to figure out how he can try to protect Harper in the lineup so teams can’t just avoid him. So far this season, the skipper has stuck with Zimmerman in the cleanup spot behind Harper.

He didn’t sound like had any plans to change that after last night’s game.

“Like I’ve said before,” Martinez explained, “... and I’ll say it over and over again, Zim’s had some good at bats. He’s hitting the ball hard. That ground ball he hit to short was hit hard. He can’t guide it, he can’t tell the ball where it’s going to go, all he’s got to do is hit the ball hard.”

“Pitch right down the middle,” Zimmerman said of the first-pitch heater, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.

“Hit it hard. Just hit it on the ground. ... I got a pitch I could do damage with, and I just didn’t do it.”

“[Harper’s] taking his walks,” Martinez added.

“So they’re doing well, and we’re going to get out of this. I’m telling you, we’re going to get out of this, I just want these guys to understand, one, we ain’t going to put our heads down, and two, we’re going to keep battling and things are going to go our way.”

“We played well, we just can’t get that big hit right now. We’re hitting the ball,” Martinez said after the fourth straight loss.

“They’re swinging the bats, we just can get that big hit with the people on base.”

Will they get that big hit... or another dominant start from Max Scherzer in today’s series finale with the Giants?

Zimmerman is getting the day off this afternoon against Giants’ righty Jeff Samardzija, so it’s Matt Adams in the cleanup spot behind Harper, with Andrew Stevenson in left field in AT&T Park, and Wilmer Difo at second...