Desmond enjoying the cleanup spot

ATLANTA - In 487 career major league games played, tonight is the first time that Ian Desmond has hit cleanup.

Talking with reporters about it before the game, Desmond downplayed the significance of his place in the order, joking that he hit cleanup two days ago - when he came up fourth in the fourth inning.

Jokes notwithstanding, Desmond seems to be having a decent time in the No. 4 spot tonight.

Desmond followed a Bryce Harper walk in the fourth inning by smoking a Paul Maholm curveball deep to left-center for a two-run homer.

It’s Desmond’s fourth home run of the season and gets him into double-digit RBI territory with 10 runs driven in.

Maholm put the ball on a tee for Desmond, spinning a curve up there that sat right in the middle of the plate. Desmond stayed back on it and drove it deep into the seats. He now has 16 extra-base hits on the season.

Those were the first runs the Nats had notched off Maholm this season after he’d thrown 10 2/3 scoreless innings going into the fourth inning tonight.

Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, has now worked 14 straight scoreless frames.

Zimmermann has followed up his one-hit shutout his last time out by opening with four scoreless innings against the Braves tonight. He’s allowed two hits and struck out three.

It’s 2-0 Nats as we head to the fifth.

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