Published November 20, 2014
Ryan Zimmerman had three hits, including a solo homer, and knocked in four runs Sunday as the Nationals beat the Braves 8-4 in the rubber match of a three-game series, getting All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez his 11th win.
Zimmerman's first two RBI came during a four-run first inning and the last in a two-run ninth, propelling the Nationals to their sixth win in eight games against the Braves this season.
Gonzalez (11-3) left after walking the first two hitters in the fifth and giving up a three-run homer to Freddie Freeman that got Atlanta within 6-4, but still picked up his sixth straight win on the road.
He threw 114 pitches despite a game-time temperature of 101 degrees -- the third game in a row in the series that started in triple-degree heat.
Fellow Nats starter Stephen Strasburg left Saturday's loss after just three innings because of heat exhaustion.
"It was a hot one out there," said Gonzalez. "I remembered coming in talking to Stras a little bit and I was telling him I know how you felt. It's just one of those things. It's just hard to go out there and try to overcome it."
Braves starter Tim Hudson (6-4) allowed six runs -- five earned -- on eight hits and two walks while striking out four in six innings.
The teams combined had five players named to the NL All-Star team on Sunday and three more added to the ballot for the final fan vote.
Gonzalez and Strasburg were elected by the players and Ian Desmond was a manager's choice. Bryce Harper is a candidate for the final fan vote.
Braves second baseman Dan Uggla was voted in as a starter while closer Craig Kimbrel was player-elected. Chipper Jones and Michael Bourn are candidates for the final vote.
"It's a huge honor to represent the National League," said Uggla. "The fans thought I was deserving enough to start. I'm going to play my best and have a great time."
The first three Nationals batters got hits to spark their four-run first.
Steve Lombardozzi doubled, Harper singled and both runners came home on Zimmerman's double over the head of the center fielder Bourn. Zimmerman eventually scored on Adam LaRoche's sacrifice fly before Desmond drew a two- out walk and scored when Rick Ankiel's single got past Bourn in center for an error.
Gonzalez walked Hudson on four pitches to load the bases in the second but escaped further trouble. The Braves struck for a run in the third, however, after Jason Heyward singled and scored on Jones' double.
Zimmerman cracked a hanging curveball deep over the left field wall in the fifth for his sixth homer of the season, and Jhonatan Solano singled home Desmond in the sixth to make it 6-1 Washington.
But Gonzalez walked Jones and Uggla to start the bottom of the sixth, then threw a fastball over the meat of the plate that Freeman knocked into the right-center field seats for his 10th homer, getting the Braves within 6-4.
The bullpens locked it down from there until Zimmerman's RBI single off Jonny Venters in the ninth. Another run scored on Tyler Moore's ground out against Cristhian Martinez.
"I'm starting to feel better. I'm feeling a lot healthier," said Zimmerman, who missed 60 games last year after undergoing abdominal surgery. "Obviously the past two days (my) confidence has been getting going a little bit. So I just gotta keep that momentum going and keep going hard."
Tyler Clippard got three straight ground ball outs in the ninth for the Nats.
Gonzalez is 2-1 against the Braves this season. He hasn't lost on the road since April 29 against the Dodgers...The Nats' fourth run in the first inning was their 5,000th since moving from Montreal...Hudson fell to 148-6 when given four or more runs while he's still on the mound (he came out after six but Freeman's homer still counted for his total)...The Nats went 5-5 on a 10-game road trip. They return home for six in a row starting Tuesday against the Giants...The Braves are 3-3 on a 10-game homestand that ends with four against the Cubs starting Monday.