Nationals-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson insists Jordan Zimmermann is not pitching nearly as poorly as his record would indicate, and the starter's stellar ERA supports that sentiment.

There seems to be little explanation for why the lineup cannot provide Zimmermann with even average run support.

Zimmermann hopes Washington's biggest offensive outburst of the season carries over into his outing Wednesday night in the continuation of a four-game set against the host Colorado Rockies.

The right-hander is receiving an average of 3.09 runs of support per nine innings, which ranks fifth-worst in the majors. Zimmermann (3-6, 2.89 ERA) allowed two runs in seven innings Friday at Baltimore but suffered a 2-1 defeat.

"I just try to keep the team in it as long as I can and stay out there as long as I can and save the bullpen," he said.

While Zimmermann - winless in his last five starts - downplayed the lineup's struggles when he takes the hill, Johnson is well aware of the recurring theme.

"He's pitched great. We just haven't been scoring for him," the manager said. "We hit the ball hard today with runners on, got zilch.

"He's 3-6. He's pitching a lot better than that, that's for dang sure."

Zimmermann has been solid against the Rockies, going 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three career starts, and he finally may be in the right place to get some support. Colorado pitchers have by far the worst ERA in the majors at 5.38, and they've been especially bad at home with a 5.97 mark.

NL East-leading Washington (42-30) set season highs for runs and hits (21) in a 12-5 win Tuesday, just its fourth victory in 11 contests.

Adam LaRoche hit two homers, Ryan Zimmerman had his 1,000th career hit and Ian Desmond and Michael Morse each had four hits. Washington's 11 extra-base hits were the franchise's most since collecting 12 on Aug. 21, 2002 - also at Colorado - as the Montreal Expos.

"We knew we had a good offense. We knew at some point we'd come around. We're too good a team not to score runs all year long," Zimmerman said. "Lucky for us, we have a real good pitching staff that's been the backbone of this team and helped us get to where we are now."

Colorado manager Jim Tracy has been mostly strict with his 75-pitch limit for the starters in his four-man rotation, which perhaps was a factor in pitching coach Bob Apodaca asking to be reassigned. Apodaca was made a special assistant to general manager Dan O'Dowd prior to Tuesday's game.

Christian Friedrich threw 70 pitches and took the loss Tuesday for the Rockies (28-45), who have lost 15 of their last 19, including seven of eight at home.

"It's not a 10- or 12-game sample where you formulate an opinion on it one way or the other," Tracy said. "I think you allow it to evolve first and see how it goes.

"Tonight was a night quite frankly where it blew up."

Edwar Cabrera has been called up from Double-A Tulsa to make his major league debut Wednesday. He's 8-4 with a 2.94 ERA in 15 starts this season, and he led the minor leagues with 217 strikeouts in 2011.

Tracy has been impressed with the left-hander and said Cabrera has a chance to stick with the Rockies.

"Just take a look at what he's done so far," Tracy told the team's official website. "He's a strike-thrower. You've got to give him an opportunity not only to get his feet wet, but get a chance to settle in at this level and see what it's all about."

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