WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Manager Davey Johnson gave his Washington Nationals a little talk before Sunday's game against the Minnesota Twins.
The Nationals got the message, as Washington had five players with at least two hits and Jordan Zimmermann pitched seven scoreless innings in a 7-0 victory.
Zimmermann said the words from Johnson weren't a big pep talk.
"It was more of a story time," said Zimmermann, who added that Johnson relayed stories from his playing days. "I guess it got us going."
Zimmermann improved to 9-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.00.
What did rookie second baseman Anthony Rendon take from the Johnson talk?
"Swing (the bat), be aggressive," said Rendon, who had had two runs batted in as Washington pounded out 14 hits. "That's what he was trying to say."
The defending National League East champions had fallen two games under .500 after losing Saturday and had lost six of its last eight games.
Rendon had run-scoring hits in the fourth and fifth, and shortstop Ian Desmond had three hits and two RBIs for the Nationals (30-31), who scored five times in the fifth to break the game open.
Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche and rookie Jeff Kobernus also had two hits for Washington, which also drew four walks, unusual for a team with a poor on-base average.
"It definitely feels good to help the team win," said Kobernus, who had his first two big league hits. "That is what it is all about."
Kobernus started in center field for Denard Span, who fouled a ball off his foot on Saturday.
It was the first of two games between the teams Sunday. The second game was set to begin at 7:05 p.m. EST.
Zimmermann is 11-0 in his last 18 home starts and has not lost at Nationals Park since May 17, 2012. This time, he went seven innings and allowed only two hits and no runs with eight strikeouts against the Twins (27-32).
"I am going deep in the ballgame and giving the team a chance," Zimmermann said. "The curveball was good. The fastball was good the whole time. We needed some quick innings."
Chris Parmelee had two of the Twins' three hits.
"We missed a few plays out there and didn't get too many hits," manager Ron Gardenhire of the Twins said.
The Nationals had taken a 7-0 lead in the fifth on an RBI double by Rendon. Earlier in the fifth, Desmond laced a two-run single to center to make it 5-0 as the Nationals chased Minnesota starter Scott Diamond (4-5), who allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Said Diamond: "I thought I was executing pretty well. Curveball was better than it's been. I was able to throw some pretty good changeups. That outcome sucks. I'm really frustrated with the way it went and how it all played out in those last couple of innings for me."
LaRoche gave the Nationals a 3-0 lead in the fifth when, with the bases loaded, he hit a hard grounder that second baseman Brian Dozier could not come up with, and Steve Lombardozzi scored on what was ruled a single.
The Nationals had taken a 2-0 lead in the fourth, when Rendon singled home LaRoche from third.
Desmond also scored from second on the play as the throw from Twins' shortstop Pedro Florimon got past first baseman Justin Morneau on Rendon's infield hit.
Rendon dropped a pop up in the sun and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made another throwing error. But Johnson was all smiles outside of the Washington clubhouse.
"I don't get upset when we are aggressive," Johnson said.
NOTES: The Nationals recalled 1B/OF Chris Marrero from Triple-A Syracuse for the Sunday games. He was batting .306 with 10 home runs and 44 RBIs for Syracuse, and hit .248 in 31 games for Washington in 2011. He pinch-hit in the seventh for Adam LaRoche and grounded out to shortstop. ... The Twins activated Chris Colabello for the Sunday games. He was batting .353 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs for Triple-A Rochester and entered Sunday with an average of .133 in 15 at-bats for the Twins this season. He was retired as a pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh. ... The Nationals unconditionally released LHP Zach Duke, who had been designated for assignment on Tuesday. ... Joe Mauer of the Twins was given his 101st intentional walk Saturday, moving past Rod Carew into fourth on the all-time list for Minnesota. After the walk in the 11th inning, Ryan Doumit came through with the game-winning hit. Mauer did not play in the first game Sunday.