WASHINGTON – Once again, Jordan Zimmermann received very little run support. But, as was the case in his last start against the Cincinnati Reds, the Nationals were able to do just enough to squeak out a one-run win beating the Astros 3-2.
Zimmermann went seven innings and allowed one run on four hits while striking out three.
The lone run against him came in the fourth inning when Astros shortstop Jordan Schafer led off with an infield single. He stole second base, went to third on a groundout by Jed Lowrie and then scored on a groundout by Travis Buck.
Zimmermann should sue for lack of support.
The Nationals have scored the right-hander just two runs over his 21 innings this season. Last year, he had an ERA of 3.18 but his record of 8-11 was not nearly indicative of the way he pitched.
“I was afraid he was going to pitch another great game and get an L,” said manager Davey Johnson. “Bernie got a big hit but you’re right, he hasn’t been getting hardly any at all but if he keeps pitching like that, he’s going to get a whole bunch of wins.”
The Nationals tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning on Roger Bernadina’s RBI double scoring Rick Ankiel allowing Zimmermann to spit the hook for his second straight no-decision.
The Astros took the lead in the top of the eighth inning off Ryan Mattheus on an RBI single by Schafer but the Nats battled back against Fernando Rodriguez, Wesley Wright and Rhiner Cruz in the bottom half of the inning.
The Nats loaded the bases with no outs when Cruz walked Jayson Werth to force in Danny Espinosa to tie the game at 2-2. After Ankiel grounded into a force play, Wilson Ramos hit a sacrifice fly to center field to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead.
Henry Rodriguez came on and had a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his third save of the season. Zimmermann can handle the no decisions and the lack of run support as long as the results are what they have been — Nationals victories.
“A win is a win — no matter how we are getting it,” Zimmermann said. “We’re getting into the last innings the last couple of games here which makes it extra exciting and I’m happy we got the win.
“I just go out there and battle and keep the team in the game as long as I possibly can and fortunately I was able to go seven innings again tonight and the bats came around late. Better late than never, I guess.”
The Nationals are now 10-3 and have won four straight series to start the year and they are 5-2 in one-run games.
“I definitely think it builds confidence,” said right fielder Jayson Werth. “It’s good for this team to get wins like that, especially early in the season. We’ll take the wins we are getting right now and hopefully they keep coming.”
Werth has been on some good teams in the past with the Phillies and the Dodgers and he feels this team has many of the same qualities as those teams.
“We believe in ourselves,” he said. “We’re a good club and I think as the season goes on we’ll continue to prove it and you know, right now, we’re just focused on one game at a time, one day at a time and we’re doing all right.”
“The ballclub is seeing how you can protect leads and not overtax the bullpen,” Johnson said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. I think that’s how you win pennants. Everybody in the bullpen has to do their job and that’s what you’re seeing to a high degree.
“The ballclub knew I expected them to be one heck of a ballclub and to contend. They’re just reinforcing what we all believe by playing tough in close ballgames and winning close ballgames.”