Zimmerman and the NL East-leading Nationals try to keep All-Star Matt Cain struggling Thursday night when they go for a sweep of the three-game series.
Washington (47-32) matched a season high by moving 15 games over .500 with Wednesday's 9-4 victory. Zimmerman continued his resurgence with a homer, a double and three RBIs for the Nationals, who have won four straight at home and six of eight overall.
They have totaled 18 runs and 25 hits in the first two games of this series, the first time the Giants allowed nine or more runs in back-to-back games since Sept. 11-12, 2009.
"We know that if we come out and play our type of baseball, good clean baseball - we pitch well and play good defense - our offense will be there when we need it," Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond told his team's official website.
A recent cortisone shot to his ailing shoulder has revived Zimmerman, who is hitting .370 (17 for 46) with five doubles, four homers and 16 RBIs in his last 10 games to raise his average 26 points to .244. The third baseman has enjoyed some success against Cain (9-3, 2.53 ERA), going 6 for 22 with a home run and double.
"I was playing banged-up for a while there," Zimmerman said. "And when you try to play through things, sometimes it doesn't allow you to do the things you've been doing and that leads to other things and other things. It's definitely a lot better when you show up to the park and you feel healthy every day."
Michael Morse , who was on the disabled list for the first two months of the season, also homered Wednesday and is 16 for 35 (.457) with three homers and nine RBIs in Washington's last eight games.
The Nationals have averaged 8.6 runs in that stretch, which may make it tough for Cain to have a bounce-back outing. The right-hander had one of his worst performances of the year Friday, giving up five runs and 11 hits - both matching season highs - in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-1 defeat to Cincinnati that ended his streak of eight straight winning decisions.
"Matty was a little off today, a little out of sync," manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants' official website. "He was having trouble getting the ball where he wanted. It's going to happen."
The Giants (45-37) have a 5.65 staff ERA in losing four of five since stringing together four straight shutouts.
One factor working in Cain's favor, however, is the extra day of rest. He is 3-1 with a 1.49 ERA in five starts with five days' rest, limiting opponents to a .134 batting average while striking out 43 in 36 1-3 innings.
Cain is 5-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 11 lifetime starts versus the Nationals, but has been tagged for 11 runs and 18 hits in losing his last two in the nation's capital.
Ross Detwiler (4-3, 3.30) has pitched well in both of his starts since rejoining the Nationals' rotation, except for one inning. The left-hander had gone 11 innings without yielding a run as a starter - 18 innings overall - before Atlanta scored four runs off him in the seventh inning of Washington's 5-4 victory Friday.
Detwiler has gone six starts without a victory since beating Arizona on May 3, and he lost to Cain in his only appearance against the Giants in 2009.
Washington has not swept a three-game home series from San Francisco since July 25-27, 2006.
|San Francisco Giants|
|June 26, 2012||Shane Loux||15-Day DL||Strained neck|
|June 14, 2012||Aubrey Huff||Day-to-Day||Sprained right knee|
|June 11, 2012||Aubrey Huff||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|June 07, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right hamstring|
|June 02, 2012||Santiago Casilla||Day-to-Day||Bruised knee|
|May 16, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left toe|
|July 01, 2012||Chien-Ming Wang||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|June 30, 2012||Stephen Strasburg||Day-to-Day||Left game - heat exhaustion|
|June 24, 2012||Xavier Nady||15-Day DL||Right wrist tendinitis|
|June 17, 2012||Ian Desmond||Day-to-Day||Oblique soreness|
|June 11, 2012||Roger Bernadina||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right hamstring|
|June 10, 2012||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Sore back|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Washington Nationals came up with a unique way to win, picking up the game-ending run on a short-hopped throw to first in 1924 uniforms.
The NL East leaders completed a sweep of the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night, winning 6-5 when Adam LaRoche 's would-be, inning-ending double-play grounder with the bases loaded was botched by shortstop Brandon Crawford 's low throw.
"Not the way we drew it up, but we will take it," LaRoche said. "I was running as fast as I can - which isn't very fast - but it was good enough to put a little pressure on him."
It was throwback night in the nation's capital, and the "Senators" topped the "New York Giants" with a two-run rally off Santiago Casilla (2-4). Washington recovered from a four-run deficit and has won four straight and seven of nine.
Pinch-hitter Tyler Moore led off the ninth with a double to the gap in left-center. Casilla then failed to barehand Steve Lombardozzi 's sacrifice, an error that put runners on first and third with none out. Bryce Harper singled in the tying run, and Ryan Zimmerman was walked intentionally to load the bases.
Michael Morse bounced into a forceout at home, and Zimmerman hoped against hope that the game wasn't headed to extra innings when he saw LaRoche hit the grounder to second.
"Hopefully Adam's fast enough. Well, actually, I know Adam's not fast enough. Hopefully they mess up," Zimmerman said with a laugh.
They messed up. The Giants got the first out at second base, but Crawford bounced the relay - and first baseman Brandon Belt couldn't come up with it.
"Those are the things that have happened to us this year," Zimmerman said. "We've had some opportunities and we've caught some breaks, and more importantly we've taken advantage of those breaks, and good teams do that."
Harper scored on the play, and the Nationals ran onto the field pretending as if they were deer, a preplanned celebration for any sort of game-ending play by LaRoche.
"I was going to shoot then with my bow," LaRoche said. "I think I got one before I got tackled."
Tyler Clippard (2-2) pitched the ninth to get the win for the Nationals, who scored 24 runs in the three-game series.
The home team went all-out to recreate the nostalgia of the '24 World Series, even though the game didn't feature both of the cities nor both of the franchises from the Series the Senators won in seven games. The Giants moved to the West Coast in 1958, and that version of the Senators (also called the Nationals) bailed for Minnesota in 1961. The current Nationals are the former Montreal Expos, who moved to Washington in 2005.
Still, it was a treat to see the Giants wearing the old pinstripe caps with the stylish NY logo, and the Nationals sporting a straight W instead of a curly one. Fans received an old-fashioned "official score card" from the "Washington Base Ball Club." The players wore stirrups, and the grounds crew donned suspenders. Charlie Brotman, the public address announcer for two Senators franchises, was back at the microphone, while the scoreboard showed replays in black and white.
The ball used for the ceremonial first pitch came from Game 6 of the '24 Series. Throwing it from the first row of the stands was Hank Thomas, grandson of Game 7 winner and Hall of Fame pitcher "Big Train" Walter Johnson .
One big difference: That Game 6 lasted one hour, 57 minutes. Thursday's game was just getting to the seventh inning at the two-hour mark.
It would have lasted longer - or at least had more scoring - if the Giants could get more bang for their buck. San Francisco needed 15 hits to scratch out its five runs and went 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position.
"We probably should have had 10 runs today, and we didn't get it done there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "You play a good team, and when you don't put them away and keep it close, things like this can happen."
Giants starter Matt Cain allowed three runs over 6 2-3 innings and had a 5-1 lead before giving up back-to-back home runs to Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa in the seventh. It was after Desmond's homer that teenager Harper turned to LaRoche and said: "We're going to win this game."
"You know how Bryce gets," LaRoche said. "He gets fired up when stuff like that happens."
NOTES: Giants 2B Freddy Sanchez will have microdiscectomy surgery on his back next week and won't play this season. ... Harper didn't win the online balloting for the final NL All-Star roster spot. Told before the game that Harper was trailing, Washington manager Davey Johnson said: "Good. ... He could use the time off to catch his breath." ... Nationals RHP Drew Storen , recovering from a right elbow injury, threw one perfect inning in a rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP