Nationals ride eight-run inning to 11-9 win over Braves

ATLANTA - Buoyed by the return of Ryan Zimmerman from the disabled list, the fully healthy Nationals lineup put together its most productive inning of the season tonight, riding an eight-run top of the fourth to an 11-9 win over the Braves.

Zimmerman, playing his first game in nearly three weeks since suffering a bruised left wrist, homered on the first pitch he saw and wound up with three hits and a sacrifice fly to lead a Nationals lineup that racked up 17 total hits on a muggy Saturday night at Turner Field.

Anthony Rendon had four hits, and Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner also homered for the Nationals, who got contributions from nearly every starter in this game.

With the win, the Nationals improved to 11-1 against the last-place Braves this season, 25-6 over the last two seasons.

scherzer-head-on-red-vs-batter-sidebar.jpgMax Scherzer struggled early, giving up three runs during a laborious bottom of the second. But the right-hander bounced back, took advantage of all the run support and wound up going 6 1/3 innings to earn his 13th win.

Scherzer actually put the Nationals in a 3-1 hole early, but his teammates didn't let that deficit last for long. They sent 12 men to the plate in the top of the fourth. Eight of them scored. Nine of them recorded hits, a club record. Ten of them reached base. Poor Wilson Ramos; the All-Star catcher accounted for all three outs in the inning, lofting a fly ball to right and grounding into a double play.

Murphy and Turner each homered during that barrage, with Turner driving a three-run blast to left for his fourth homer of the season. The rookie speedster doesn't have nearly enough plate appearances to qualify, but if he did his .554 slugging percentage would rank sixth in the National League.

Zimmerman provided his big blast in the top of the second, crushing the first pitch he saw from right-hander Tyrell Jenkins to left, the ball leaving his bat at 111 mph. His line drive single two innings later left the bat at 110 mph.

The Nationals bullpen and infield defense made things a bit more interesting than manager Dusty Baker would have liked, giving up six late runs and committing a couple of mistakes in the field that prolonged innings. Baker had to turn to closer Mark Melancon to record the final out in what became an unlikely save situation.

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