May 10, 2015, 4:28 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals secured their first sweep of the 2015 season on Sunday thanks to some more late game heroics to bail out their bullpen. This time it was Matt Grace who gave up a would-be go-ahead run. And this time it was Wilson Ramos who provided the decisive hit in the 5-4 victory.
Ramos doubled home Ryan Zimmerman with two outs in the eighth inning, a long flyball that sailed over the head of Nick Markakis, one of the better defensive right fielders in the business. The game was tied on an RBI single by Zimmerman, a hit that scored Ian Desmond who began the rally with a single of his own.
Jordan Zimmermann recorded a quality start, but it was anything but easy. He walked three and battled a high pitch count much of the afternoon. The Nationals handed him a three-run lead after the first inning, but he failed to maintain it.
Bryce Harper did not homer, which is news on it’s own these days. He fell just short of clearing the fence on an RBI double in the first.
The Braves fought back to tie the game against Zimmermann and later take the lead with Grace on the mound on the seventh. Grace allowed a leadoff single to Freddie Freeman, who moved to third on a flyball by Johnny Gomes that Harper lost in the sun in right field. An Alberto Callaspo bloop single then brought Freeman home for the tiebreaking run.
The Nationals moved above .500 for the first time this season with Saturday’s win and are now 17-15 on the year with Sunday’s Mother’s Day win.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The Nats wasted no time jumping out to an early lead on Atlanta, as Yunel Escobar started a first inning rally with a single on the very first pitch he saw from Braves starter Alex Wood. Desmond then bunted Escobar over to second before Harper drove him in two batters later. Harper smoked a long flyball straight away to center field and missed a home run by about three feet. The ball bounced off the glove of Cameron Maybin and fell in for a double.
Zimmerman then followed with a double to left-center to score Harper and Ramos quickly notched an RBI single of his own. The Nats left the first inning with a 3-0 lead, as Ramos extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Zimmermann entered the day with a 2.73 ERA in his last four starts to follow a disastrous outing against the Red Sox in Boston. That momentum would not carry over on Sunday, however, as the right-hander labored through a humid afternoon.
Zimmermann gave up two runs in the second inning on RBI singles by Cameron Maybin and Wood. Wood actually went 3-for-3 on the day, not bad for a pitcher. Wood had just three hits in his career prior to Sunday through 68 total at-bats.
Zimmermann finished the second inning with 44 pitches, but did get more efficient later in his start. He allowed another run in the third inning on a Jace Peterson single and left after six innings. Zimmermann’s final line was 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO with 107 pitches (65 strikes).
Zimmermann is 2-2 with a 4.20 ERA through seven starts this season.
KEY STAT: The Nats swept Atlanta at home for the first time since Aug. 28-31 of 2008.
UP NEXT: The Nationals head out on a West Coast road trip beginning with three games against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. Up first is a 9:40 p.m. Monday night start with D-Backs right-hander Josh Collmenter (3-3. 3.40) on the mound. Stephen Strasburg, it would seem, will start for the Nats, but Matt Williams will announce his plans later on Sunday.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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