Homer for Zimmerman on first swing off DL (Nationals win 11-9)

ATLANTA - It took all of one pitch for Ryan Zimmerman to hit the virtual reset button on his difficult season.

Returning to the lineup after a three-week stint on the disabled list with a bruised left wrist, Zimmerman smoked the first pitch he saw tonight over the left field wall. The 394-foot laser off rookie right-hander Tyrell Jenkins left his bat at 111 mph and gave the Nationals an early 1-0 lead over the Braves, though Atlanta would come right back to take the lead with a flurry of hits off Max Scherzer in the bottom of the second.

zimmerman-smile-red-hat-sidebar.jpgIt was as perfect a return from the DL as Zimmerman and the Nats could have hoped for, and it offered immediate hope that the 31-year-old first baseman might be able to do as manager Dusty Baker suggested and start his season over now that he has come back from two injuries and poor production when healthy.

Zimmerman entered the game sporting a career-worst .222 batting average and .678 OPS, numbers that left Baker with no choice but to bat him seventh in the Nationals lineup for only the fifth time in his career.

Handed that quick lead, Scherzer gave it right back to the Braves, and then some. The right-hander served up three doubles and a single in the bottom of the second, letting three runs cross the plate.

This comes on the heels of a ragged start in Colorado for Scherzer, who lasted only four innings against the Rockies.

Update: Apparently, this Nationals lineup isn't half-bad when everybody's healthy. They lead 9-3 after five innings, with eight of the runs and nine hits coming in the top of the fourth alone. Zimmerman is 3-for-3 with a homer and two singles. Daniel Murphy is 2-for-2 with a walk and a homer. Trea Turner hit a three-run homer. Basically, everybody has contributed, except for poor Wilson Ramos, who is 0-for-3 and accounted for all three outs in that fourth inning. Scherzer, meanwhile, has bounced back from his rocky second inning to cruise through his next three frames and make the most of this large lead his teammates have given him.

Update II: It's 10-6 Nats after eight. A little too close for comfort. Scherzer departed after 6 1/3 innings. The bullpen has since made things closer than they needed to be, though the defense hasn't helped either. But the Nats still will take at least a four-run lead into the ninth.

Update III: It's over. Nats win 11-9 after a harrowing bottom of the ninth. They've taken the first three games of this series and are now 11-1 against the Braves this season, 25-6 the last two seasons.

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