Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats once again try to beat the Braves tonight at Turner Field.
The absence of Werth, in particular, probably prevented Davey Johnson from making one change he would have liked to use tonight: Tyler Moore at first base instead of struggling Adam LaRoche. But with Werth out, and with left-hander Paul Maholm starting for Atlanta, Moore is needed in left field, so LaRoche remains at first base.
Danny Espinosa, on the other hand, has been removed from the lineup for tonight (and likely tomorrow, as well). Steve Lombardozzi will get his shot to start at second base; he'll also hit second, ahead of Bryce Harper.
The best news for the Nationals is that Jordan Zimmermann, the starter who has given them the best chance to win so far in 2013, is on the mound. He'll be trying to pick up where he left off five night ago when he tossed a 1-hit shutout over the Reds.
Updates to come...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv, ESPN (outside D.C. market)
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 72 degrees, Wind 12 mph in from RF
CF Denard Span
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Tyler Moore
3B Anthony Rendon
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
CF Jordan Schafer
SS Andrelton Simmons
LF Justin Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
C Evan Gattis
2B Dan Uggla
CF B.J. Upton
3B Juan Francisco
LHP Paul Maholm
HP Mike Winters (cc)
1B Mark Wegner
2B Laz Diaz
3B Tim Timmons
7:10 p.m. — We are underway with a strike from Paul Maholm to Denard Span.
7:15 p.m. — And a 1-2-3 top of the first for Maholm, who got some help from plate umpire Mike Winters on a 3-2 fastball that appeared to be off the inside corner. Span wasn't happy about that call. Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper then each made quick outs on groundballs.
7:23 p.m. — Jordan Zimmermann gets through a scoreless first inning. He might've caught a break when first base ump Mark Wegner called Jordan Schafer out on a bang-bang play with Zimmermann covering and Schafer diving headfirst. I'll never understand why guys do that instead of running straight through the base. Not only is it faster, it also makes it easier for umps to get the call right. The Nats will take this one. Scoreless through one.
7:28 p.m. — Well, the Nats have really made Maholm work so far tonight. He's thrown a whopping 17 pitches through two innings, retiring all six batters faced. The offensive woes continue.
7:47 p.m. — The Nats did manage to put a couple guys on base in the top of the third. Even though they didn't hit the ball out of the infield. Zimmermann broke up Maholm's run at perfection by beating out a grounder to short. Span then did likewise. But Lombardozzi killed the rally with a groundout to second. So it remains scoreless heading to the bottom of the third.
7:54 p.m. — Let's just ignore the part of the bottom of the third where Maholm doubled into the right field corner, making Braves pitchers 4-for-6 with three doubles and a homer in this series. (Sweet Fancy Moses!) Let's instead make note of Anthony Rendon's really nice play at third base to end the inning, one in which he had to take a step back to snag Simmons' hard chopper, then fired a laser to first for the out. Still scoreless through three.
8:08 p.m. — Wow, guess Ian Desmond is taking this cleanup hitter thing seriously. He just tattooed a hanging curveball from Maholm deep to left-center for a two-run homer. That's how you provide protection for Harper, who walked right in front of him. Nats take a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
8:15 p.m. — Zimmermann has settled into a groove and is cruising along now, having completed four scoreless innings. The only downside: The Braves are making him work more than the Reds did Friday night. He's already at 65 pitches through four innings. In his last start, he made it through seven innings on only 66 pitches!
8:24 p.m. — From the "Grass Isn't Always Greener Dept.": Steve Lombardozzi is now 0 for his last 16. He's grounded out three times so far tonight. Still 2-0 Nats in the middle of the fifth.
8:29 p.m. — Zimmermann might want to pitch to contact as much as possible, but the Braves lineup can't really help itself sometimes. Especially the bottom half. Their Nos. 6-8 hitters (Uggla, Upton and Francisco) are now 0-for-6 with six strikeouts tonight. 2-0 Nats as we go to the sixth, Zimmermann at 77 pitches.
8:40 p.m. — Uh-oh, Harper appeared to tweak something on a swing in the top of the sixth and didn't take the field for the bottom of the inning, replaced by Roger Bernadina. He also hurt his left side slamming into the wall on Tim Hudson's homer last night. Not sure what exactly the problem is, but I'll provide an update as soon as I get it.
9:00 p.m. — Sorry for the lack of updates here. Lots going on tonight. We're heading to the bottom of the eighth, Zimmermann still cruising and the Nats still leading 2-0.
9:07 p.m. — Make it eight scoreless for Zimmermann tonight, 18 consecutive scoreless overall. Absolute domination.
9:15 p.m. — Zimmermann will not get to go the distance. Rafael Soriano enters for the ninth, the Nats up 2-0.
9:24 p.m. — It's over. Soriano closes out a much-needed, 2-0 victory for the Nats. Now we find out Harper's status.