It has not been the start Ryan Zimmerman wanted to have this season. Recovering from an injury and mustering only eight extra-base hits, his average has hovered below .250 in 30 games. You could tell the veteran was waiting for a game or an at-bat to break out of it.
Baseball is a game of opportunity. That chance knocked on the door in the latter stages Friday night in Atlanta. Zimmerman had the answer.
Braves starter Tim Hudson got into trouble in the seventh inning. Down 4-3 with two outs, Hudson walked pitcher Chien-Ming Wang to begin the rally. After a Steve Lombardozzi double, Hudson walked Bryce Harper in front of Zimmerman.
Wait a minute, walked Harper in front of Zimmerman? Yup.
On an 0-2 pitch, Zimmerman rapped a double to center field that scored three runs to make it 7-3 Nationals. Washington went on to win 7-4.
After a four-run first inning, it was the biggest hit of the game and a statement from Zimmerman.
Don't you forget about Zim.
Wang pitched three innings in relief of starter Ross Detwiler, allowing only a solo shot from Jason Heyward and earning his first win of the season in his first game of 2012.
It wasn't all roses for the Nationals. Detwiler fired 100 pitches and allowed three runs, lasting 4 1/3 innings, walking four and suffering from continued control issues.
Rick Ankiel had a big night after his recent struggles, highlighting a four-run first inning with a two-run triple. He finished with two hits.
Tyler Clippard struck out two Braves, including Freddie Freeman to end the game and earn his
second save in as many opportunities.
The Nationals now have 27 wins and lead the Braves by two games in the NL East. Atlanta has now lost five in a row.