Desmond just keeps doin' it (Nats close first half with 4-3 loss)

The numbers keep getting more impressive by the day.

Ian Desmond is 2-for-2 today, and his two-run home run to the red seats in left-center in the fourth inning has given the Nationals a 2-1 lead over the Rockies.

The All-Star shortstop now has 17 home runs and 51 RBIs on the season. A day before the All-Star break.

Oh, and he added his 10th stolen base of the season this afternoon, as well.

Desmond leads all shortstops in homers, RBIs, doubles and slugging percentage. He's tied for fourth in the National League in homers, and over his last 11 games has six home runs and 13 RBIs.

He keeps making sparkling defensive plays, as well. And he's doing all of this with a sore oblique which has been bugging him for more than a month.

Desmond is having a breakout season and is quietly establishing himself as one of the best shortstops in baseball.

His efforts today have the Nats leading in their final game before the All-Star break.

Update: Jordan Zimmermann closed the first half with the same type of effort he's delivered many times so far this season. The righty allowed just one run on three hits over seven innings, marking the 17th time in as many outings this season that he's worked at least six frames.

It was another stellar start, but Zimmermann won't be rewarded for it with a win.

The Nationals' bullpen allowed two runs in the eighth, turning a 3-1 Nats lead into a 3-3 tie. Sean Burnett allowed a leadoff homer to pinch hitter Eric Young Jr., and then gave up back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners. Michael Gonzalez then struck out the side, but not before throwing a wild pitch that allowed Dexter Fowler to score from third with the tying run.

Zimmermann ends his first half with a 2.61 ERA and just five wins.

Update II: Burnett and Tyler Clippard have been so good this season. Today was not either guy's day.

After Burnett failed to record an out in the eighth, Clippard gave up the game-winning run in the ninth, allowing the Rockies to leave D.C. with a 4-3 victory and a series win. Clippard gave up a leadoff double to Jordan Pacheco, and after a sac bunt moved Pacheco to third, he scored on a wild pitch.

A wild pitch allowed the Rockies to tie the game in the eighth. Another one allowed them to win it in the ninth.

Washington made some noise in the ninth, and had runners at second and third with two outs. Jesus Flores struck out to end the game, however.

The Nats close the first half on a down note, but still finish 15 games above .500 with a 49-34 record. They go into the break leading the NL East by four games.

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