Jordan Zimmermann tossed eight scoreless innings to extend his scoreless streak to 18 frames as the Washington Nationals downed the Atlanta Braves, 2-0, on Wednesday night at Turner Field.
"First inning I didn't have my best stuff. The fastball I was getting inside a little bit. I had good off-speed stuff and kept throwing that, then the fastball came back a little later in the game," said Zimmermann.
Zimmermann (5-1), who was coming off the best start of his career, a one-hit complete-game bid against Cincinnati, surrendered just two hits and no walks while striking out eight. Rafael Soriano saved it for Zimmermann with a perfect ninth.
Ian Desmond's two-run homer in the fourth inning was all the run support Zimmermann needed, as Washington snapped a three-game skid and defeated Atlanta for the first time in six tries this season.
"Nice to put up the W," said Desmond. "Jordan did a great job. Soriano came in and finished it out. We put up a lot better at-bats tonight and played a lot better defense."
Braves starter Paul Maholm (3-3) hurled eight strong innings as well to absorb the loss. Washington mustered just three hits against the Braves southpaw.
Both pitchers were terrific early on as each team managed just two hits apiece through three innings. Atlanta's two, one each by Justin Upton and Maholm, were the last hits they would register all game..
The visitors broke through in the top of the fourth inning on Desmond's fourth homer of the season. Bryce Harper, who left the game in the sixth inning with an apparent oblique injury, drew a walk to lead off the frame and Desmond deposited a 1-1 offering over the wall in left-center field.
Zimmermann struck out side in the fifth and retired the last 17 batters he faced before giving way to Soriano.
"He threw really well. He kept us off balance and he made some good pitches," said Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer. "Tip your hat to him this time."
After Soriano had recorded two outs, Andrelton Simmons roped a line drive down the right field line. The ball had home run distance but missed the foul pole by a few feet. Simmons then grounded out to end the game.
MLB Network cameraman Reuben Porras, 61, collapsed during pre-game and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before the start of the game ... Upton finished April as the major league leader in home runs, the first Brave since Dale Murphy in 1985 to accomplish such a feat ... Maholm needed just 17 pitches to get through the first two innings, including six in the second ... The game lasted just 2 hours and 15 minutes.