Associated Press photo
Edwin Jackson gave up four runs in five-plus innings.
Hitting highlight: They came in a losing effort, but the hitting performances of Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa shouldn't be ignored. Zimmerman continued his torrid streak at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a single, a double and a homer (plus a fastball in the small of his back for good measure). The difference in Zimmerman's power stroke since he received the cortisone shot 22 days ago has been striking: He's clubbed seven homers with eight doubles during that span. Espinosa, meanwhile, singled, doubled and tripled, all from the left side of the plate. He's looked much more comfortable over there in recent days, and if he can sustain that stroke, he and the Nationals will certainly benefit in the long run.
Pitching lowlight: Remember when we all were touting Jackson as the best No. 4 starter in baseball a couple of weeks ago? Well, in three starts since, the right-hander has a 10.54 ERA, having allowed 16 earned runs on 21 hits in only 13 2/3 innings. In the process, he's seen his ERA jump to 3.89 from 2.91. As has frequently been the case when he's struggled, Jackson was done in by one bad inning. Unlike previous games, it wasn't the first inning that got him but the third. It wasn't entirely Jackson's fault; he gave up a two-run single to Carlos Lee on a breaking ball at his shoelaces. But the big blow was entirely Jackson's fault; he grooved a 1-0 fastball down the middle to Hanley Ramirez, who sent the ball on a beeline to the Home Run Sculpture in left-center field.
Key stat: The Nationals have caught only 10 of 59 would-be basestealers this season. The last time they did it: June 12 in Toronto.
Up next: The Nationals open a key homestand against their two closest challengers in the NL East. The Braves will be in town for four games over the weekend, but first it'll be the Mets for three. Ross Detwiler faces Jonathon Niese in Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. opener.