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Wire Taps: Nationals sweep Pirates, win 5th straight overall; Phillies up next...

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before the start of this weekend’s series with the Phillies.

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Ryan Zimmerman is just 5 for 25 (.200/.200/.480) on the current homestand, but three of the Nationals’ first baseman’s five hits are extra base hits (2B, 2 HRs), and the 33-year-old first baseman homered in his final plate appearance on Thursday, hitting a solo shot to left-center to put the Nats up 3-0 in what ended up a 3-1 win.

Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after Washington’s fifth straight win that it was a good sign for the struggling veteran.

“Absolutely,” Martinez said, while noting that, as he’s said all season, Zimmerman continues to make good contact even if the results aren’t there thus far.

“We said, ‘Hey, you want to miss a guy, hit it over the fence, and he did it. But he’s hitting the ball really good and he’s playing really well. He made an unbelievable play there at the end of the game in the ninth, so kudos to him that he stays with it, and he gets it.”

There’s work to do, however. On the season, Zimmerman has a .190/.248/.400 line after the finale with the Pirates.

How will he fare against the Phillies, who come to D.C. for three games this weekend? Read some links while we wait to find out...

NATS BEAT:

With quick hooks, Nationals are getting Hellickson's best
"Neither conventional wisdom nor the eye test would have suggested the 31-year-old was ready to be pulled..."

Turner and Zimmerman finally reap results of hard hit balls
"Manager Davey Martinez has seen Turner start to connect in the last week and today he finally really got a hold of one, with the game time temperature at 87 degrees."

Washington Nationals playing with a purpose after four-game sweep
"Even though it was an early May contest against a non-divisional opponent in the Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals manager Davey Martinez pulled strings as if it were the middle of October."

Nationals beat Pirates, winning streak at 5
"Even as the Nationals scuffled through the start of the season, playing far below expectations and finishing the month with a losing record, they maintained there was no reason to panic."

Nationals find untapped strengths, and a rallying cry leads to a rally
"Now, SkyChiefs — a name Syracuse abandoned for Chiefs in 2006 — may be a rallying cry."

Sean Doolittle gets rare five-out save as Nationals sweep Pirates
"Doolittle got the last two outs of the eighth and then retreated to Washington’s first-base dugout, where he stayed near indoor batting cages as the Nationals took their swings against the Pirates."

Nationals vs. Phillies series preview: Can the Nats keep this roll going?
"The Nationals will get their first look at the precocious Phillies this weekend, and they will do so needing to make a statement against a division foe."

How can the Nationals fix Ryan Zimmerman?
"Everyone, those qualified and unqualified, those inside the Nationals organization and out, has an answer for Ryan Zimmerman."

These are the NL East's best pitches
"The luxury about Strasburg's changeup is that he can use it whenever he wants. It's most often a lethal put-away pitch..."

Shawn Kelley might be ready for this weekend
"Nationals right-hander Shawn Kelley feels like he could be ready to return from the disabled list when he is eligible on Friday."

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

Bryce Harper sent Knights customized baseball bats
"In addition to energetically cheering for the Golden Knights on social media, Harper showed his support for the expansion team by sending them customized baseball bats with players' names printed on them."

Fantasy baseball -- Daily notes, pitcher rankings and hitter ratings plus players to add for Friday
"If Pivetta can keep Harper and Mat Adams in check, he should be a good source of strikeouts."

The Braves Are Way Too Young to Be in First Place in the NL East
"This year’s NL East was supposed to be a Washington Nationals walkover."

Tipsheet: Matt Adams helps revive Nationals with power surge
"The Washington Nationals have come back to life, with notable help from a face quite familiar to Cardinals fans."

NATS MINORS:

Corredor Homers Again in Suns 11-4 Victory
"Aldrem Corredor homered in his third-straight game, going 3-for-5 with five RBIs in the Hagerstown Suns' 11-4 victory over the Greensboro Grasshoppers..."

P-Nats Mash Their Way to Series Victory | Potomac Nationals News
"The first game played at Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium was certainly a memorable one, as Washington National Anthony Rendon made his first appearance as a P-Nat since 2015..."

The force is with young Soto at the plate
"Juan Soto has only been in the Carolina League for nine games. But he's making it look easy already."

Juan Soto among top prospect performers
"There is perhaps no hotter hitter in the Minor Leagues than Nationals' No. 2 prospect Juan Soto, who blasted his third and fourth home runs in nine games since being promoted to Class A Potomac."

Senators Fall in Road Trip Opener 3-1 to Trenton
"The Harrisburg Senators dropped the series opener to the Trenton Thunder 3-1 Thursday night at ARM & HAMMER Park."

Chiefs shut out by Bisons on foggy Buffalo evening
"Edwin Jackson allowed just two runs and tied a Chiefs' season high with nine strikeouts in six innings, but the Bisons' quieted the Chiefs bats in the first game of the four-game series."