Zimmermann claims ninth victory as Nats blank Twins

Ian Desmond had three hits and two RBI to back seven outstanding innings from Jordan Zimmermann as the Washington Nationals posted a 7-0 shutout of the Minnesota Twins in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.

Zimmermann (9-3) limited the Twins to two hits and a pair of walks while matching a season-high with eight strikeouts to nail down his ninth win of the season, tied for the most in the majors. He was aided by a five-run fifth inning that helped the Nationals avenge an 11-inning loss to Minnesota in Saturday's opener of this three-game set.

Anthony Rendon and Adam LaRoche each went 2-for-3 to aid Washington's cause, with Rendon knocking in three runs and LaRoche scoring twice in addition to contributing an RBI single.

The Twins, who had won eight of 11 coming in, mustered just three hits total on the afternoon, with Chris Parmelee accounting for two of them.

Scott Diamond (4-5) was hung with the loss after being tagged for all seven runs -- six earned -- on 10 hits before being removed with two outs in the fifth inning.

"That outcome sucks," said Diamond afterward. "I'm really frustrated with how it went and how it all played out those last couple of innings."

Washington entered the day having managed a mere 14 runs over its last seven outings and was shut out over the first three innings in this one, but got untracked by scoring twice in the fourth before the offense broke out in a big way a frame later.

The Nationals strung together three straight singles off Diamond in the fourth, though Jayson Werth was gunned down at the plate by Minnesota's Clete Thomas on Desmond's base hit to left that capped the sequence. The play enabled both LaRoche and Desmond to move into scoring position, however, and Rendon followed with a hard grounder to short that a diving Pedro Florimon came up with, but threw late and wildly to first as the game's initial two runs crossed the plate.

Washington then loaded the bases with two out in the fifth on a pair of walks around a Ryan Zimmerman double, with LaRoche coming through with an RBI infield single in front of Desmond's two-run hit that chased Diamond and pushed the lead to 5-0.

Ryan Pressly came on in relief and was greeted by Rendon's opposite-field double to right that knocked in both LaRoche and Desmond.

"Confidence comes by attacking, just being aggressive," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson of the offensive surge. "I liked our approach today, we were in attack mode."

Zimmermann didn't need all the support, though. The standout righty struck out the side in both the second and third innings and didn't allow a hit until Parmelee singled in the top of the fourth. He proceeded to set down seven of the next eight hitters until Parmelee doubled with two out in the sixth and was eventually left stranded.

"We kind of missed a few plays out there and didn't get too many hits," said Gardenhire. "But [Zimmermann] was throwing the ball really good, and that's why he's doing so well over there."

Ian Krol and Xavier Cedeno closed out the shutout with a inning of work each.

Game Notes

Zimmermann has now won 11 consecutive decisions at Nationals Park and hasn't lost at home since May 17, 2012, a span of 18 straight starts. He's 6-0 with a 1.06 ERA in seven home assignments this season ... Desmond extended his hitting streak to 11 games, matching a career best set from June 5-17, 2011 ... Washington's Jeff Kobernus went 2-for-4 and picked up his first major league hit with an infield single in the bottom of the third inning ... The Nationals had lost five straight to the Twins since a 3-1 decision at the Metrodome on June 9, 2007 ... Pressly exited the game with an undisclosed injury with one out in the bottom of the sixth ... Samuel Dedeno will start Sunday's nightcap for Minnesota, with Nate Karns set to make his third big league start for the Nats.