While he hasn't garnered as much attention as his two All-Star rotation mates, Jordan Zimmermann is quietly enjoying a superb campaign.
With Zimmermann seeking a career-best fourth consecutive winning decision, the NL-leading Washington Nationals try to build on their thrilling series-opening victory Wednesday night in the second of three against the slumping New York Mets .
In a rotation featuring strikeout specialists Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez , Zimmermann (6-6, 2.48 ERA) sometimes gets overlooked. The 26-year-old right-hander, though, ranks fourth in the NL in ERA and has gone at least six innings in all 18 of his starts - the longest such stretch to open a season by a Nationals pitcher since the club relocated to Washington in 2005.
Zimmermann has missed out on his fair share of victories, with the Nationals (52-36) providing him with three runs of support or fewer in 13 of his outings.
"Unfortunately we never score any runs for him and he doesn't get that many wins, but he's Mr. Consistency," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman told the team's official website. "You know what you're going to get out of him."
Zimmermann finally has been getting some help lately, and he's also been especially sharp over his last four starts, going 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA. He allowed four hits and struck out six over six scoreless innings Friday in a 5-1 victory at Miami.
"That's what I try to do every time out there, go six, seven, eight innings," he said. "I guess this year I've just been lucky enough to put a nice little streak together."
Washington is coming off its ninth win in its last 11 meetings with New York (46-44), pulling out a back-and-forth 5-4, 10-inning victory Tuesday. The Nationals took a two-run lead into the ninth inning but fell behind twice before Zimmerman scored the winning run on Pedro Beato 's wild pitch.
"We've got a long second half to go, and hopefully we'll have some more of those," said Bryce Harper , who tied the game in the 10th with a run-scoring triple.
Tuesday's result extended the Mets' losing streak to a season-high five games. New York, which has been outscored 33-17 during its skid, now sits seven games behind Washington and 3 1/2 back of second-place Atlanta in the NL East.
"Judging by what I've seen in this clubhouse so far this year, nobody's going to feel sorry for ourselves, and nobody's going to put their heads down and go just through the motions," third baseman David Wright said. "We're going to continue to fight."
The Mets could have a hard time getting back on track behind Chris Young (2-3, 4.28), who was hit hard in his first start following the All-Star break. The right-hander surrendered a season-high five runs along with six hits and three walks over three innings of Friday's 7-5 loss at Atlanta.
"Nothing was as sharp as it needed to be," he said. "There are no excuses. I need to be better and that's it."
Young has been much better against the Nationals, going 3-1 with a 2.74 ERA over seven career starts and holding them to a .197 average. He gave up two earned runs over five innings opposite Zimmermann during the Mets' 7-6, 12-inning road loss June 5.
Zimmermann has also typically held his own in this series, allowing two earned runs or fewer in six of his eight starts versus New York.
The Nationals could be without All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond (sore left oblique) again after he was held out of the starting lineup for the third time in as many days Tuesday. He leads the team with 17 homers and 48 runs scored.
|New York Mets|
|July 11, 2012||Dillon Gee||Day-to-Day||Bloot clot in right shoulder|
|July 08, 2012||Dillon Gee||15-Day DL||Blood clot in right shoulder|
|July 03, 2012||Kirk Nieuwenhuis||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|June 23, 2012||Frank Francisco||15-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|June 16, 2012||Jason Bay||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 16, 2012||Jason Bay||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|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) -- In Jordan Zimmermann 's first 14 starts, the Washington Nationals scored four runs for him three times - and the result was three victories.
In the right-hander's last five starts, the Nationals have scored four or more four times and he's won each time.
Zimmermann pitched six shutout innings, Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer and the Nationals hung on to beat the New York Mets 4-3 on Wednesday night.
Steve Lombardozzi added a two-run double as Washington handed a sixth straight loss to the Mets, who held a team meeting before the game.
Zimmermann (7-6) won his fourth straight, allowing just four hits in six innings, striking out four and walking none.
"He's pitched well enough to be 12-2," manager Davey Johnson said.
Zimmermann reduced his ERA to 2.35, and he began the game with the National League's fourth-best average.
"It's a well-kept secret," Johnson said.
He's pitched at least six innings in all 19 of his starts, and Johnson cut him off after 95 pitches.
"I want to go six, seven, eight innings every time out," Zimmermann said. "The longer you stay in, the better chance you have of winning the games."
Perhaps later in the season, Johnson will let him go longer.
"He's a man out there," Johnson. "There's no muss, no fuss. Here - hit it."
In the seventh, Tom Gorzelanny allowed a one-out double to Lucas Duda , who scored on Andres Torres ' single.
Sean Burnett worked a scoreless eighth, but Tyler Clippard , who blew his third save Tuesday, allowed two home runs in the ninth to David Wright and Jason Bay . Clippard then struck out Jordany Valdespin for his 15th save in 18 chances.
"I wanted to stay aggressive. I didn't want to walk anybody or allow anybody on base - stay away from the big inning. Got a couple of bad pitches out over the plate to some good hitters - and they got me," Clippard said.
LaRoche hit a 1-2 pitch from Chris Young (2-4) into the left-center field stands for his 16th home run in the sixth. It was his third home run in 11 at-bats against Young. Eight of LaRoche's 16 homers have been two-run shots.
"There's no satisfaction tonight. We need to win and we lost the game. There's no feel-good about tonight. I made the mistake that cost us," Young said.
Lombardozzi's two-out double in the seventh against Miguel Batista made it 4-1.
Wright led off the ninth with his 12th home run of the year, and after Clippard struck out Ike Davis and Duda, Bay hit his fifth home run - striking the foul pole in left field. Both were on the first pitch.
Mets manager Terry Collins said his team's spirits were good.
"There are no saviors. Just continue to battle and battle, get out of this and go win six in a row. That's the only way you can play. We have a great clubhouse. Watch each other's backs and continue to move forward," Collins said.
On Thursday afternoon, R.A. Dickey (12-1) will pitch for the Mets.
"I'm sure R.A.'s going to give us a good game tomorrow because that's what's going to crack this thing. This game, as you can see by what they do, is on the mound. If we continue to pitch, we'll win our games," Collins said.
Bryce Harper had an eventful night with two singles and also caught a long fly ball hit by Duda in left-center in the second after an extended run. In the fourth, Harper singled, and when Ryan Zimmerman flied to center, he ran and was about 30 feet past second when he fell down and was easily doubled off first.
Wright had three hits. He's now reached base in 81 of New York's 87 games.
NOTES: Washington RHP Drew Storen will probably be activated Thursday, Johnson said. Storen has yet to pitch this season due to elbow surgery. ... Nationals C Jhonatan Solano is probably headed to the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain. He's likely to be replaced by Sandy Leon , who's at Double-A Harrisburg. ... Washington OF Jayson Werth , who's on the DL with a broken wrist, took batting practice on Wednesday and launched seven straight home runs. Johnson said he'll be sent out on a rehab assignment on Thursday. ... Duda returned to the lineup after missing three games with a left hamstring injury. ... New York RHP Jon Rauch had his knees drained on Tuesday, but pitched the eighth. ... Dickey (12-1, 2.66) will pitch against Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (12-4, 3.93) on Thursday afternoon.