Nationals complete sweep of Marlins

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,John Keim

Washington allows first run after starting season with two shutouts

The manager wasn't wowed by his game. And the pitcher himself received a handful of questions about whether he had his best stuff (not really) and why a particular pitch took a while to work (the slider).

All this for a guy who allowed one run in six innings.

But such is life for the Washington Nationals these days. When the first two starters on the staff give up no runs in their starts, the guy who gives up one run in his outing -- Jordan Zimmermann -- will look worse by comparison. Not that the Nats are complaining, not after a 6-1 win over Miami to complete a three-game sweep. They now will face a much tougher test this weekend at Cincinnati than what they had against the rebuilding Marlins.

Still, there were many positives: Zimmermann might not have had his "greatest stuff," as Davey Johnson said, but he allowed only one run -- a leadoff homer to Justin Ruggiano in the second -- on eight hits.

"That's the best I've felt in a long time," Zimmermann said. "I was just trying to do what the two guys in front of me did. They had great games. I wanted to put up as many zeroes as I could."

Maybe he wasn't as dominant as Stephen Strasburg or Gio Gonzalez, but he was effective. He was helped out by his offense, too, as Jayson Werth smacked a three-run homer in the seventh over the bullpen in left-center field. It was his first homer of the year.

"He wasn't happy the first couple games with the way he was swinging," Johnson said of Werth. "He was going really good coming out of spring training. He looked good on that [homer]."

Werth is hoping to put any issues or concerns about the wrist he injured last season in the past.

"You guys are more worried about my wrist than anyone else," Werth said. "I feel pretty confident where I'm at."

Zimmermann received all the help he needed in the first inning when Ryan Zimmerman continued his strong start. The third baseman roped a two-run double to deep center, scoring Werth and Bryce Harper, both of whom had singled. Zimmerman is batting .500 with three RBI after the first series. Not that he was ready to celebrate a strong start.

"If I'm hitting this well after 35, 40 games, then we'll talk about it," said Zimmerman, who finished with three hits.

Harper had an RBI single in the second inning to score Denard Span.

Another positive for Washington was reliever Henry Rodriguez's work in the seventh. He retired the side in order with one strikeout.

But there's a difference in beating Miami and doing it against a team such as Cincinnati. Both the Nats and Reds rightfully have a goal of playing deep into the fall. It's too early to call it a pivotal series. For the Nats it's about building on a good start.

"We've gone from an up-and-coming team to a championship team in a very short period of time," Werth said. "Championship caliber clubs continue to get better. That's where we're at. The window is definitely open for us now, but we have to jump through it at some point."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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