After a three-game hiatus, Ryan Zimmerman didn’t miss a beat in his return from a back injury. Zimmerman hit two home runs, including the go-ahead long ball in the sixth inning to lead the Nationals to a 10-5 win over the Braves at Nationals Park on Tuesday night, snapping their four-game losing streak.
Zimmerman’s two-run homer in the sixth — which gave him 19 dingers on the season and tied him for the most in franchise history — sparked the Nationals’ five-run inning in which they overcame a two-run deficit to take an 8-5 lead. Bryce Harper scored Ryan Raburn with a single before Zimmerman’s home run, and Matt Wieters capped the frame by notching a two-run double. That forced R.A. Dickey — who allowed back-to-back homers in the first and then didn’t surrender another run until the sixth — out of the game.
The Braves entered the bottom of the sixth with a 5-3 lead after Rio Ruiz smacked a homer off Joe Ross, who gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings. Washington allowed a combined 14 runs after the seventh inning the past three games due to the bullpen’s struggles, but three relievers shut down the final 3 1/3 frames.
Following his three-day absence from the lineup, the Nationals couldn’t have asked much more of Zimmerman upon his return. The veteran first baseman delivered a two-run shot to left field in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Nats a 6-5 edge they wouldn’t relinquish.
But the 446-foot blast, according to Statcast™, had even more significance than giving Washington the lead; it marked the 234th of Zimmerman’s career, tying Vladimir Guerrero for the most in Nationals/Expos franchise history. He’s currently just three homers away from tying Senators great Frank Howard for most ever for any D.C. club.
After failing to do so for much of the Nats’ recent four-game skid, their bullpen found a way to close out a victory without much drama. After Ross exited the game, four relievers pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, highlighted by two shutout frames from lefty Enny Romero.
Atlanta will tap right hander Julio Teheran (5-4, 5.08 ERA) in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale at Nationals Park at 3:05 p.m. CT. The right-hander will look to post a solid outing against a Washington lineup that has given him trouble since the start of the 2016 season.