Game in a nutshell: On the day they learned they'll be sending at least three (and maybe four) players to Kansas City for the All-Star Game, the Nationals turned to one of their former All-Stars for some more offensive support. Ryan Zimmerman continued his torrid week at the plate with a double, a homer and three RBI that helped stake his team to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first. Staked to that lead, Gio Gonzalez battled his way through another scorching afternoon -- the temperature at first pitch was 101 degrees, and it reached 104 degrees by the fifth inning -- but wilted in the sixth when he served up a three-run homer to Freddie Freeman. No problem, because the Nats tacked on two late runs and then turned things over to their lights-out bullpen. Craig Stammen, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard combined for four scoreless innings to wrap up a series victory over the Braves.
Hitting highlight: You can only wonder what might have been had Zimmerman received his magic cortisone shot earlier in the season. It's too late to do anything about that now, but the Nationals are plenty happy with the results they've seen in the week since Zimmerman received that shot. With a two-run double, a towering, solo homer and an RBI single during today's game, Zimmerman now has 14 hits (seven of them for extra bases) and 13 RBI over his last eight games. The home run was particularly impressive because it was Zimmerman's most prodigious display of power perhaps all season.
Pitching highlightlowlight: The task of pitching on a 101-degree afternoon is by no means easy, but Gonzalez didn't exactly help his cause today. He struggled to find the strike zone from the beginning, and even though he'd only given up one run, his pitch count already stood at 74 through three innings. He completed the fifth at 98 pitches, his team leading 6-1, and there might have been some thought to having Gonzalez call it a day right there. Davey Johnson, though, let the All-Star lefty take the mound again for the bottom of the sixth, and that proved to be a mistake. Gonzalez immediately walked both Chipper Jones and Dan Uggla, then served up a three-run homer to Freeman that turned what had been a rout into a tense ballgame.
Key stat: When Ian Desmond scored on Rick Ankiel's first-inning single (with some help from Michael Bourn, who booted the ball in center field), the Nationals scored their 5,000th run since arriving in Washington in 2005.
Up next: Having concluded their 10-game, three-city road trip, the Nationals will take Monday off before returning to South Capitol Street to open a big series against the red-hot Giants. Note the special 6:35 p.m. starting time for Tuesday's game featuring Jordan Zimmermann and Tim Lincecum.