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Nationals' Zimmermann notches 13th win

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- When times are tough, nothing helps like a trip back home.

And while Auburndale, Wis., is technically 177 miles and almost three hours from Milwaukee's Miller Park, just being back in Wisconsin was enough for Jordan Zimmermann, who snapped a three-game losing streak with six scoreless innings in the Nationals' 4-1 victory over the Brewers on Friday night.

"It felt good," Zimmermann said. "You always want do to well in your home state and in front of your family and friends. I was happy to put up some zeros, get the month of July over with and into a new month."

After going 0-3 with a 7.52 ERA -- and giving up 12 runs in his last 8 2/3 innings -- Zimmermann (13-6) was not completely crisp and allowed four hits -- all doubles -- and four walks while needing 100 pitches to get through six innings.

"'Zim' pitched pretty good," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He threw a lot of pitches at times, so he was kind of on a short leash with me today.. He pitched out of some tough jams, a lot of doubles, and we worked out of them. It was outstanding.

"His command wasn't as good as I've seen it, but he certainly made pitches when he had to. He beared down when he got guys on base and that's what a good ace like him does. We could have broken it open if we would have gotten a little more clutch hitting, but that's a nice win."

Bryce Harper gave Zimmermann enough of a cushion with his 16th home run of the season, a solo shot to right field to lead off the sixth inning.

The home run capped a 2-for-5 day that included two RBI for Harper, who hit just three home runs and six multi-hit games while batting .260 in July.

"We grinded it out tonight and did the things we need to do to win a ballgame," Harper said.

Harper's two hits were among 12 by the Nationals against the Brewers' bullpen, which was forced to work eight innings after starter Tom Gorzelanny was drilled by Jayson Werth's line drive to start the second inning.

"It definitely doesn't feel good right know," Gorzelanny said. "It got me pretty square in the elbow. It was extremely painful right after. I'd say normally guys get hit and usually make the play and after that the pain sets in. This is one of those things it got me really good. I couldn't even (make) an attempt for the ball. It was pretty painful."

Alfredo Figaro (1-3) took the loss for Milwaukee, despite pitching four solid innings in relief of Gorzelanny. Figaro gave up a run and two hits with a strikeout.

"Figgy did a real nice job," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "But we made some mistakes again today. You get behind on these guys and you go into the ninth inning and you need to score three runs to tie it makes it tough. Really, we gave them a couple of runs. We need to play better."

Milwaukee had a chance to take the lead in the fourth. Carlos Gomez drew a leadoff walk and stole second. With one out and Juan Francisco batting, Gomez was caught trying to steal third. Francisco followed with a double off the wall in center but was left stranded on Jeff Bianchi's strikeout.

The Nationals got on the board in the fifth in similar fashion.

Ian Desmond opened with a double and, with Denard Span batting, Desmond attempted to steal third. Bianchi mishandled Lucroy's throw, allowing Span to reach third and continue on to score, giving Washington a 1-0 lead.

The Brewers put runners at the corners in the bottom of the fifth, but Lucroy grounded into a force at second, ending the threat.

Gorzelanny had made quick work of the Nationals before Jayson Werth opened the second with a line drive that hit Gorzelanny on the left elbow.

Roenicke and members of the training staff checked on Gorzelanny, who attempted to throw a practice pitch before being removed from the game with a left elbow contusion.

X-rays on the elbow did not reveal structural damage.

After Harper's homer in the sixth, Anthony Rendon singled in a run in the seventh to give Washington a 3-0 lead.

Lucroy homered for Milwaukee in the eighth, but after the Nationals added an insurance run in the ninth on a Rickie Weeks' error, Rafael Soriano was perfect in the bottom of the inning to pick up his 27th save of the season.

NOTES: Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said discussions over his recently signed contract extension and promotion to president of baseball operations had been in the works for several months, despite Washington's 52-56 record so far in 2013. ... Zimmermann played collegiately at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. ... The game started 20 minutes late because of a ceremony honoring former Brewers start Robin Yount. ... Spin Williams, the Nationals' minor league pitching coordinator, is serving as the team's pitching coach this weekend while Steve McCatty recovers from an irregular heartbeat that landed him in the hospital earlier this week.
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