Leaving Atlanta on a positive note

ATLANTA - In case you missed the final out of last night's 3-1 Nationals win, you missed a postgame celebration that's starting to grow in popularity.

For years now, Rafael Soriano has untucked his jersey after notching a save. Last night, MASN's cameras caught Ian Desmond doing the same.

Turns out, Desmond has been joining in on Soriano's trademark postgame move all season after the Nats' closer has notched saves. He hopes to get other Nats to hop aboard the untuck bandwagon.

"It feels great," Desmond said, putting extra emphasis on the word "great."

The Nats had plenty to be happy about last night following their second straight win over the Braves.

They'd dropped the first two games of the four-game set with Atlanta, and the second loss had been an 8-1 drubbing at the hands of their division rivals. But two straight dominant pitching performances turned in by Jordan Zimmermann and Dan Haren and a few timely hits helped the Nats turn the page on an 0-5 start against the Braves, and got them back on track.

"I feel like April was just one of those months for us," Jayson Werth said. "It's over. Now we're in May. Now we can go. Off to a good start in May, hopefully we can build on that. Felt like we played pretty good baseball the last couple days. We'll be all right.

"We're starting to come together as a team, too, starting to mesh. We've got new guys in here, so those things take time. Chemistry takes time. I feel like it's starting to happen."

The Nats were visibly frustrated after Tuesday night's seven-run loss to the Braves. As they said at the time, their confidence remained, but it seemed like they might have just been searching for their swagger. Had they dropped one of the final two games of the series, they would've left Atlanta with another series loss.

Instead, the team's charter flight to Pittsburgh late last night was likely a much more joyous one. Two straight road wins against a division rival to salvage a tough split will do that for a team.

This isn't to say that everything has immediately turned around. The Nats are banged up and have scored three runs or fewer in their last five games and 10 of their last 12.

What's missing? Phrase that question a little differently and you might get part of your answer.

"Well, the guy who's been missing from the lineup is coming back tomorrow, Ryan Zimmerman, that's for one," Denard Span said.

True. His left hamstring apparently healed, Zimmerman will be activated from the disabled list today and will return to the middle of the Nats' lineup. His presence, if nothing else, will be a major factor and might jump-start things from an offensive perspective.

"I just don't think everybody's clicking on all cylinders right now," Span said. "Everybody's still trying to find their swings. It's good. Everybody's talking about we're struggling. But it feels good to be ahead of .500 and be struggling. Too many teams can't say they're struggling and at .500. It'll be a matter of time before everyone gets on the same page and we'll be rocking."

Now, for both the Nats and myself, it's off to Pittsburgh. The Nationals will have three games against a Pirates team that is off to a surprising 16-12 start, serving as yet another test for a Nats team that has had plenty of them already this season.

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