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Rendon continues 'hitting cover off ball' in Nationals' win over Diamondbacks

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON - Washington rookie second baseman Anthony Rendon said not much has changed since he played baseball as young boy. "The bases are a little longer," he said, with a smile.

But the point Rendon tried to make Wednesday was that he has been hitting the ball to the opposite field for a long time, and that has not changed since he came it to the Major Leagues this season.

The right-handed hitter had hits in his first three at bats, including a double to center and two singles up the middle, and starter Jordan Zimmermann improved to 11-3 as the Washington Nationals beat the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2.

"I am a little more comfortable" Rendon said of his second Major League stint. He is hitting .354 in his first 99 big league at bats.

"He is hitting the cover off the ball," said Zimmermann, who lowered his ERA to 2.28.

Washington will try for a three-game sweep when it sends Stephen Strasburg to the mound on Thursday.

"Another easy pitcher tomorrow," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said with a wry smile, after his team has lost to Gio Gonzalez and Zimmermann in the first two games.

Zimmermann went seven innings and allowed three hits and two runs before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter. He is now 13-0 in his last 20 starts at Nationals Park as the go-ahead run scored in the fifth on a double play grounder by Ryan Zimmerman.

"I like pitching here," Jordan Zimmerman said. "The fans are great. I don't know what the deal is (with his unbeaten home streak)."

"He got rolling. He is a good pitcher. He has 11 wins. He has pitched good all year," Gibson said of Zimmermann.

The Wisconsin native was asked if he is thinking about a possible All-Star appearance.

"I am not thinking about that," Zimmermann said. "We are playing pretty good ball right now. It would be nice to get a win tomorrow" before heading to New York for a weekend series with the Mets.

Rendon has now reached base in 22 of his last 23 games. He flew out to the warning track in left in his fourth at bat in the eighth against reliever Josh Collmenter.

Tyler Clippard came out of the bullpen to pitch a scoreless eighth for the Nationals (39-38) and closer Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 21st save as he retired A.J. Pollock on a pop out to Rendon with two runners on base to end the game.

Arizona starter Wade Miley (4-7) gave up three runs (two earned) before he was taken out for a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth. The Diamondbacks (41-36) lost for the second night in a row following a five-game winning streak.

"He pitched a solid game for us, good enough to win," Gibson said of Miley.

Tyler Moore had hit his third homer of the year, a solo shot to left, to tie the game at 2-2 in the fourth. Moore was called up from Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday for his second stint with the Nationals this season.

"He left it out over the plate. I was able to hit it out," Moore said.

Zimmerman had an RBI double in the first to score Rendon, who singled, to pull the Nationals within 2-1.

Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt collected his league-leading 67th RBI with a double in the first to give the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Martin Prado singled in Goldschmidt to make it 2-0.

NOTES: Nationals OF Bryce Harper, on the disabled list with left knee bursitis, made his second rehab start Wednesday at Class A Potomac. He fanned in his first at bat as the DH but then hit a homer in his second at-bat. "We will be excited to get him back," SS Ian Desmond said. ... Washington prospect Taylor Jordan was named to the Futures Game, to be played July 14 at Citi Field in New York. The right-hander, who is 7-0 for Double-A Harrisburg, is a candidate to start for the Nationals on Saturday at the Mets, according to published reports. ... Arizona RHP Archie Bradley and 3B Matt Davidson were also named to the Futures Game. Bradley, the No. 3 prospect in the system according to Baseball America, was 5-3 with a 2.29 ERA for Double-A Mobile through Tuesday. Davidson was hitting .301 with 10 homers for Triple-A Reno. ... Arizona LHP Tony Sipp began the night with a streak of 11 scoreless outings on the road. His 0.82 road ERA was third best in the league.
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