Williams recaps win after Nats up division lead to nine games (Desmond update)

The Nationals' division lead is now nine games, the largest it's been since baseball came back to D.C. in 2005

You can pretty much lock up the National League East, folks.

Matt Williams' ballclub took another game from the Braves tonight, this one by a 6-4 score, their fifth win in their last seven games against Atlanta. This win locked up a third straight series win over an above-.500 team, trimmed the magic number to 10 and left the Nats up nine games over the Braves with 19 games remaining on the Nationals' schedule.

Jordan Zimmermann worked six innings, allowing four runs (two earned), and benefited from five runs of support over the first two innings. The Nats got to Ervin Santana early, and while the Braves crept back into the game in the middle innings, Aaron Barrett, Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen and Drew Storen combined to work three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out four.

Storen got the save for the third straight day, and has retired all nine batters he's faced in that time, with six strikeouts.

Here's Williams after the win:

On the victory: "We jumped out early, which was good. The thing I liked about it was, it wasn't by the homer. It was good approach, it was hitting the ball back through the middle the other way. And that's kind of our team, so that's a good thing. Their approach was really good tonight."

detwiler-windup-front-white-sidebar.jpgOn the work of Detwiler and Stammen in the eighth: "Those two guys have been really our longer guys this year, and they came in and got the guys they had to get. The matchups are there. We want to bring Det for (Freddie) Freeman. Threw him a really nice curveball and then Stammer for Justin (Upton). And threw him a couple sliders to get ahead, bounced a couple, then threw him a really nice pitch to strike him out. Just good execution and good pitching on their part. They're an explosive team, so one swing of the bat and they can always get back into it. They made good pitches."

On Freeman and Upton being thorns in the Nats' side: "They're a thorn in everybody's side. They're really good players. You try to do the best you can to get a guy in there that will be able to make pitches, and both those guys did."

On if he had reservations about going to Storen for a third straight day: "Yeah, of course. We talked about Thornton to lead the inning off, but if he's in that position tonight to close, then we want to give him the full inning. And he was economical with his pitches again tonight. I wouldn't anticipate he would pitch tomorrow, though. He's done a really nice job over the last three."

On the early runs: "We didn't hit a whole bunch of balls hard, hard. But they had a good approach, they stayed through the middle of the diamond, and we were able to sort of piecemeal that first inning, especially, together. Just good at-bats."

On whether Ian Desmond is OK after he left the game to start the top of the sixth inning: "He's got a little low back tightness. But I anticipate he'll be fine. We'll have to check him tomorrow to see how he feels, but there's nothing, no big issue. He's just a little tight in his lower back and he let me know and we got him out of there."

On Detwiler being put in a spot tonight where he was a weapon out of the 'pen: "Yeah, he can. He can also go multiple innings. He's been a starter before, so he's OK doing that, but he can also come in there and get that out, like he did tonight. Really nice pitches on Freddie, and threw him a really good curveball. Those are situations that he wants to be in, that we want him to be in. For the most part this year, he's been a longer guy. That's certainly been the role we've had to use him in. But he's certainly capable of coming in like he did tonight."

On whether he knew how the seventh and eighth innings would map out tonight with Tyler Clippard getting the night off: "Barrett was going to pitch the following inning, and he was really economical, so we decided to send him back out. During his time in Triple-A, he went an inning-plus. So we wanted to take him through (Phil) Gosselin and then match up from there. Bonnie (Emilio Bonifacio) hit a double, but then he got Gosselin and we were able to match up."

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