Aug 23, 2015, 4:39 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: It had been nearly two months since the Nationals won consecutive series, and it finally came against two of the worst teams in baseball, but the Nats’ performance to finish the weekend was a convincing sign of progress, nonetheless.
After dominating the Brewers on Saturday night, the Nats followed suit with a 9-5 victory in front of 28,039 people on a beautiful afternoon on South Capitol St. The Nationals have scored six runs or more in consecutive games for the first time since June 20-21 (vs. Pittsburgh).
Wilson Ramos hit his 10th homer of the season, Anthony Rendon homered for the second straight game and Danny Espinosa came within inches of a third-inning grand slam. It was an offensive explosion and nearly every Nats player got involved.
Starter Jordan Zimmermann was not sharp and he ran into major trouble early, but he was good enough to take advantage of a disaster of an outing for Brewers right-hander Matt Garza. Garza gave up seven earned runs on eight hits and six walks, the latter of which tied a career-high.
Zimmermann allowed two runs in the first inning on a homer to Jonathan Lucroy and another homer to Scooter Gennett in the fifth. He moved to 10-8 on the season and now holds a 3.54 ERA in 26 starts.
The Nationals have won two straight series for the first time since June 23-28. They moved to 62-61 with the victory and will now wait for the Mets’ result as New York plays Colorado this evening.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The Nationals’ 9-5 victory was powered by two huge innings, the third and the fifth. The third inning saw four runs scored all with two outs.
After Zimmermann and Jayson Werth struck out, Rendon walked to begin the rally. Bryce Harper then beat a shift with a groundball to left field that resulted in a double and put both runners in scoring position. Ryan Zimmerman walked and Ian Desmond followed that with an infield single to score Rendon. Espinosa then smoked a double off the wall in right-center to clear the bases and make it four runs in the two-out surge.
The fifth inning was where the homers took place. Ramos blasted his to straightaway center with one out. It smacked off the front edge of the upper deck, an absolute bomb. Rendon then homered to left field with two outs. The Nats’ infielder had one homer in his previous 43 games before Saturday, when he also homered and reached base four times.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Zimmermann entered Sunday hoping to move past one of his worst outings of the season, a game that the Nats were still able to win. But again he struggled against a bad team and was bailed out by his offense. Zimmermann allowed two homers and has now given up multiple home runs in consecutive games and in three of his last five outings.
The problems for Zimmermann surfaced right away on Sunday. Gennett led off the first with a single and Lucroy followed with a two-run homer. Ryan Braun then roped a line drive off the wall in right field, but Harper threw him out at second for his sixth outfield assist of the season.
Zimmermann finished with an uneven line of: 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 7 SO, BB, 2 HR on 116 pitches.
Drew Storen also had a rough outing, as he pitched the eighth inning. He gave up a homer to Khris Davis on his first pitch and has now allowed at least a run in five of his last six appearances.
KEY STAT: Zimmermann has allowed multiple homers in five of his 26 outings this season. He did that just once in 32 starts in 2014.
UP NEXT: The Nationals are off on Monday with the San Diego Padres coming to town for a three-game series beginning Tuesday. Stephen Strasburg (7-6, 4.22) will face his hometown team, as James Shields (9-5, 3.74) will pitch for San Diego.
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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