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Instant Analysis: Nats 4, Mets 3

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Instant Analysis: Nats 4, Mets 3

Game in a nutshell: Stop us if you've heard this one before: Jordan Zimmermann pitches brilliantly but gets precious little run support and finds himself facing a possible no-decision. Thankfully for the hard-luck right-hander, the Nationals strung together enough hits late to give him the lead. And Zimmermann didn't need much, because he didn't allow any runs over six strong innings. Adam LaRoche provided the big blast: a two-run homer in the sixth to snap a scoreless tie. Steve Lombardozzi then added the insurance knock: a two-run double in the seventh. That gave some cushion to the Nats bullpen, which unlike last night managed to close this one out in regulation (though Tyler Clippard did give up homers to both David Wright and Jason Bay in the ninth). Thus, the Nationals handed the Mets their sixth straight loss and dropped them eight games back in the NL East.
Hitting highlight: No, he's not raking at the plate the way he did during the season's first six weeks when he looked like a candidate for National League MVP. But LaRoche continues to come through with clutch hits on a regular basis for the Nats. The veteran first baseman delivered big-time in the sixth inning tonight, belting a 1-2 pitch from Chris Young into the Red Porch for his 16th homer and 54th and 55th RBI of the season. This may not turn out to be a career year for LaRoche, but he's basically doing exactly what the Nationals wanted him to do all along: Provide power, clutch hits and smooth defense at first base.

Pitching highlight: Just another quality start for "Mr. Consistency." Zimmermann was at it again, churning out six more scoreless innings and plowing through the Mets lineup with relative ease. He allowed only four hits, didn't walk a batter and in the process lowered his ERA to 2.35. That now ranks fifth in the majors. Perhaps most impressively, Zimmermann is getting better and stronger as this season plays out. Remember how the opposite seemed to be true last year as he made his comeback from Tommy John surgery? This is why the Nats limited him to 160 innings, and it's why they'll do the same with Stephen Strasburg later this season. You can't dispute the positive effect it's had on Zimmermann in 2012.
Key stat: Though he finally got his run support in the sixth, Zimmermann did go into the fifth inning without his teammates having plated a single run. That's the seventh time this season that's happened to the right-hander.
Up next: The series concludes with a fantastic showdown of the NL's only two 12-game winners: Gio Gonzalez and R.A. Dickey. They'll square off in Thursday's 12:35 p.m. matinee at Nationals Park.

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

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NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.

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Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

As you would expect a first-place NL East team to do, the Atlanta Braves bounced back to even the series with Washington Friday night inside SunTrust Park. Josh Donaldson erased Victor Robles' game-tying, two-run home run with his walk-off single in the ninth. Atlanta improved to 59-40 and increased its lead over the Nationals to 6.5 games with a 4-3 final. 

Consider these notes as Washington grinds through a pivotal series in Atlanta: 

Player Notes:

Washington's first-year lefty didn't have his best stuff going Friday night in Atlanta. Patrick Corbin tossed just five innings allowing eight hits, two runs, two walks on 100 pitches. He struck out five Braves on his 30th birthday. 

The Nationals' third baseman has brought new meaning to the word 'consistency' all year long in his first season as an All-Star. Two games into this four-game series in Atlanta, Anthony Rendon has five hits, a walk, and 2 RBI.  

Victor Robles brought the fireworks in the ninth at SunTrust Park. The 22-year-old delivered a game-tying, two-run home run off Luke Jackson. The long-ball traveled a whopping 446 feet. 

The Fernando Rodney experience was alive and well. Davey Martinez made the questionable decision to bring his 42-year-old back out in the ninth for a second consecutive inning. It backfired. Just 14 of his 32 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Injuries: 

SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 25

RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, Expected to be out until at least Aug 7

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

Coming Up:

Saturday 7/20: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Monday 7/22: Nationals vs. Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park 

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