Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann will remember this one for a while.
He tied a career-high with 12 wins. It took him a whole season, and 32 starts, to reach 12 victories in 2012.
He set a career-high with three hits in a game, scoring two runs, in a 3-for-3 performance at the plate.
The Nationals held off the Brewers 10-5 behind Zimmermann’s pitching and hitting.
Handed an 8-0 lead, which has been rare for Zimmermann in his young career, he had to fight to hold off a couple of Milwaukee rallies.
“I thought I did pretty well in the beginning innings,” Zimmermann said. “Then, I got a few of hits and I had to run around the bases a little bit and it took a little bit out of me. I thought I pitched pretty well.
“I made some pitches they got some hits off of me. I left a few up. The one Francisco hit I thought was a good pitch. The one that Weeks hit was a backup slider. I made some good pitches and I missed on a few, but I will take it. We got the win that is the main thing.”
Manager Davey Johnson said he could sense the hitting Zimmermann was doing, which included a double, two singles and two runs scored, taxed him a bit later in the game when he got back on the mound to pitch.
But he also ran into a Brewers team that had scored only 11 runs in a five-game losing streak. Their most frustrating loss might have been Sunday’s 2-1 setback in 14 frames in Pittsburgh.
“Zimm pitched a good ball game,” Johnson said. “I think Milwaukee (with) 14 innings and only scored one run yesterday and only scored one run. They were hungry to swing the bats, they swung the bats pretty good off him. It didn’t help he got a couple of base hits and had to run the bases hard. But a good win, a nice win for him.”
Zimmermann has actually lost a couple of big leads this season. Leading 6-2 at Baltimore on May 29, he ended up losing, 9-6. On June 15 at Cleveland, staked to a big lead, he lost it and was bailed out by the Nationals late inning heroics, 7-6. So on this night, Zimmermann admitted it is tough to sometimes pitch with a big league because you want to desperately keep the game moving.
Up 8-0 after four, the lead dipped to 8-4 through six innings.
“Yeah, you know, you get eight runs like that and you are pitching to score then,” Zimmermann said. “I am just throwing fastballs and trying to get quick outs, and trying not to fall behind anyone. They took the fastball the other way, I was just throwing it away. They got a few base hits and I wasn’t able to get out of a couple of innings. They obviously knew I was going to throw the fastball and I wasn’t going to mess around so they were ready for it.”
But runs are big, and the Nationals managed to put 10 on the board to help Zimmermann’s cause.
He has now won nine straight at home. Monday was the first time this season Zimmermann had surrendered more than two earned runs in a game at Nationals Park. It was the second time this season the Nationals had scored more than seven runs in one of his starts.
This win for Zimmermann was once again richly deserved, and the offense for one of the rare times made sure of it early on, so the right-hander could just go out and pitch.