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Zimmermann sharp as Nationals beat Braves again, 6-1

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Zimmermann sharp as Nationals beat Braves again, 6-1

ATLANTA (AP) -- Jordan Zimmermann says the Washington Nationals are happy to win two of three in every series.

Against the Atlanta Braves, they are doing much better.

Zimmermann took a shutout into the eighth inning and the Nationals beat Atlanta 6-1 on Tuesday night to continue their season-long dominance of the division rivalry.

The NL East-leading Nationals have won nine straight games in the season series with the Braves -- including a three-game sweep at Washington last week.

"We're just trying to win the series and take two out of three every time we face somebody and just go from there," Zimmermann said.

Zimmermann (6-5) ended a streak of three losses since his last win on June 2. He earned a no-decision despite throwing eight scoreless innings against Atlanta on Wednesday. He continued that dominance in his second straight start against the Braves, allowing six hits with no walks and six strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings.

Clint Robinson hit a two-run homer to cap Washington's four-run first inning off Shelby Miller (5-4). It was the perfect setup for Zimmermann.

"Anytime you get the runs like that early in the game you just pound the zone, throw strikes and let them put it in play," Zimmermann said.

Juan Uribe opened the ninth with a homer off former Braves reliever David Carpenter.

Zimmermann was pulled with two outs in the eighth -- the only inning he allowed more than one baserunner. Zimmermann hit Jace Peterson with a pitch before giving up a two-out single to Nick Markakis. Left-hander Matt Thornton ended the inning with A.J. Pierzynski's groundout.

Miller began the night 2-0 with a 0.85 ERA in five starts against the Nationals. That success ended quickly.

Danny Espinosa's double drove in Denard Span in the first. With two outs, Wilson Ramos hit a single up the middle to drive in Espinosa. Robinson's third homer to right field gave Zimmermann a 4-0 lead before throwing his first pitch.

Pierzynski's throwing error on a rundown between home plate and third base allowed Espinosa, who had three hits, to score in the third.

Miller allowed five runs, four earned, with 10 strikeouts in five innings.

"It just wasn't a normal Shelby Miller outing," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Shoot, he's allowed to have that every once in a while for how good he's been."

DOUBLE DEBUT

RHP Jake Brigham, making his major league debut, threw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit, in relief of Miller.

"I hate that we lost because I'm walking around with a smile," Brigham said.

Ryan Kelly, also making his major league debut, allowed one run in the ninth. Yunel Escobar, who led off with a single, scored when Ramos hit into a double play.

STREAKING

The Braves won the first game of the season series on April 27 before the Nationals' run of nine straight wins. It matches their second-longest winning streak against any team since their move to Washington in 2005.

The Nationals set a franchise record with 11 straight wins against Seattle from 2005-14. They also won nine straight against the New York Mets from 2013-14.

It matches the Braves' longest losing streak to Washington or Montreal. The Braves lost nine straight to the Expos from June 18, 1972 to June 5, 1973.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: INF Anthony Rendon took batting practice for the first time since he was placed on the 15-day DL on Friday with a left quad strain. ... 1B Ryan Zimmerman (left foot plantar fasciitis) worked out with Class A Potomac and will be evaluated following another workout on Wednesday. He has been on the DL since June 11.

Braves: 1B Freddie Freeman (bruised right wrist) probably will remain on the DL longer than 15 days. Gonzalez said Freeman's wrist "is just not improving" as the medical staff tries different treatments. Freeman is eligible to be activated on Friday and Gonzalez said he's not sure how much more time Freeman will need.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Doug Fister (3-3) will look for his second straight win over rookie Matt Wisler and the Braves when the series continues on Wednesday night. Fister threw seven scoreless innings, allowing only four hits, in a 7-0 win at Washington on Thursday.

Braves: Wisler (1-1) will make only his third start since his June 19 promotion. He gave up six runs, four earned, in the 7-0 loss to Fister and the Nationals last week. Wisler was sharp in a win over the Mets in his debut.

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Nationals owner Mark Lerner on Davey Martinez, the turnaround and Anthony Rendon’s future

Nationals owner Mark Lerner on Davey Martinez, the turnaround and Anthony Rendon’s future

WASHINGTON -- Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner surveyed batting practice Tuesday in his red Nationals jacket, watching everything he pursued coming to fruition.

His family’s team was one win from its first World Series berth. Often tense when watching even regular-season games, Lerner felt a bit of joy with his team so close to a conclusion which seemed so distant at the start of the season.

“Obviously I wasn’t too happy, nobody was,” Lerner said. “I couldn’t imagine what happened the rest of the season. I would have never believed where we are today. A turnaround like that only happens once in a blue moon, so I can’t say I totally expected it. I didn’t.”

When the crumbling season hit its low point May 23, Lerner had options. He could fire Davey Martinez. He could have demanded several other changes. He, like everyone else, had the choice to panic as a result of his irritation with the team’s beginning. Instead, he kept the manager his family preferred over Dusty Baker, the one who was assigned a clear edict when hired: take us to the World Series. 

“It never crossed my mind to dismiss Davey, no matter all the pressure that was put on us,” Lerner said. “I think he’s become a very, very good manager, and I think in the years to come he will become a great manager. I have total confidence in him and delighted that all these good things are happening. Nobody deserves it more than him.”

Slowly, his team began to pivot. Winning months followed. The rallying perpetuated until the end of the season, culminating with a 3-0 start to the National League Championship series. “I was talking to my sister [Tuesday] it’s just hard to believe, just the whole thing,” Lerner said. “Even if we didn’t have this turnaround season, if it was just a solid season, to get to this point is just such a special thing and we’re in uncharted waters. The Cardinals have been through it, the Dodgers have been through it, this is all new for everybody in this building. So it’s very special.”

Anthony Rendon’s best season as a professional was central to the push. Rendon is set to become a free agent after multiple negotiation attempts to reach a contract extension failed. Lerner lauded Rendon in spring training. He did so again Tuesday.

“We certainly want to keep him,” Lerner said. “That's 110 percent. It's really in Tony's and his family's hands at this point. They have to decide what they want to do. He's earned that right as a free agent. It couldn't happen to a better guy. We love him to death. And I hope that his decision is to stay here and I'll go pick him up and bring him over.”

For now, Lerner will spend his time watching Game 4 and his club, eventually, advancing to the World Series with one more win. No team with a 3-0 lead has lost the NLCS.

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Judge grants lawyer briefing extension for Nationals postseason run

Judge grants lawyer briefing extension for Nationals postseason run

A lawyer presenting in federal court asked a judge for a two-day extension on upcoming briefing deadlines because of the "unflagging support of a certain nine-year-old boy," also known as his son. 

Let's break down this adorable request.

Said lawyer begins with the inarguable context to set the scene for Washington's stunning postseason run: the fact that the Nationals, further known as Nats, lost 31 of their first 50 games.

His son as well as "the wheels of justice" were seemingly on the Nationals side, thus propelling them to continue to play in October, winning not only their first postseason series ever but advancing to the NLCS.

The lawyer and his son will either be watching Game 4 on TV or in person and like any good parent would say, "counsel's attendance at each is required for supervision."

Because of the NLCS schedule which can extend as far as Saturday, the lawyer "respectfully" requested to move the Plaintiff's summary judgment filing deadline to next week and consequentially, the Department of Justice's response by the same two-day extension. 

Thankfully for us all to enjoy, this request was unopposed.

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