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Instant Analysis: Detwiler downs Braves

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Instant Analysis: Detwiler downs Braves

Game in a nutshell: Perhaps reinvigorated by last night's win in the second half of their doubleheader, the Nationals stormed out of the gates in the series finale, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first thanks to another Ryan Zimmerman homer and RBI hits from Danny Espinosa and Roger Bernadina. And unlike Friday night's debacle, they never took their foot off the gas pedal. Zimmerman added another homer. Espinosa added two more hits. Bernadina added two more hits. Sandy Leon added a bases-loaded double. And Ross Detwiler did a highly effective job pitching with a lead, working fast and holding the Braves to one earned run over seven innings. So just like that, the Nationals salvaged a series split and increased their lead over Atlanta to 3 12 games. Right back where they started on Friday.

Hitting highlight: What more can you say about Zimmerman? Well, we'll try to come up with more, because it feels like we highlight the guy every single day. He deserves it, though, with the tear he's on at the plate. With two more homers (and another single, to boot) today, he raised his season average to .273. In the month of July, Zimmerman is now hitting .418 with nine homers, 19 RBI and a .910 slugging percentage. Seriously, who slugs .910 over a three-week span?

Pitching highlight: Maybe Detwiler picked up a few pointers from John Lannan last night. And perhaps Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez can pick up a few pointers from Detwiler after this highly efficient performance. Detwiler didn't mess around at all, going right after Atlanta's hitters. He went to a three-ball count only five times all afternoon, walked just one batter and forced the Braves to put the ball in play. That was a highly effective strategy, especially once the Nationals had a comfortable lead. Detwiler now sports a 3.01 ERA in 14 starts this season. Yes, the Nats' No. 5 starter has a 3.01 ERA. That's not bad.

Key stat: On June 24, the Nationals as a team were hitting .238 with a .389 slugging percentage. In 24 games since then, they're hitting a collective .309 with a .498 slugging percentage.

Up next: Their homestand wrapped up, the Nats now hit the road for a seven-game trip through New York and Milwaukee. They open a three-game series against the Mets tomorrow at 7:10 p.m., with Jordan Zimmermann facing Chris Young.

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Nationals baffled by Dickey's knuckleball in Braves' 3-2 win

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Nationals baffled by Dickey's knuckleball in Braves' 3-2 win

ATLANTA  -- R.A. Dickey frustrated Washington with his knuckleball for eight innings, Ozzie Albies had three hits and the Atlanta Braves beat the Nationals 3-2 on Thursday night.

After Ryan Zimmerman's leadoff homer in the second inning, the 42-year-old Dickey gave up only one hit -- a two-out single by Trea Turner in the third -- over the next five innings. Turner was picked off first base.

Dickey (10-10) gave up two runs, four hits and no walks. He made a strong case that the Braves should pick up his $8 million club option for 2018.

Zimmerman lined his homer into the left-field seats, tying the game at 1. He set a career high with his 34th homer, his fourth off Dickey this season.

Arodys Vizcaino struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances. It was a strong return to form after Vizcaino walked all three batters he faced in a blown save Wednesday night.

The Braves scored two runs in the fourth off Tanner Roark (13-10). Albies singled, moved to third on catcher Matt Wieters' wild pickoff attempt and scored the go-ahead run on Freddie Freeman's fly ball to deep left field. Nick Markakis doubled past Zimmerman at first base and scored on Johan Camargo's single up the middle.

The Nationals trimmed the Braves' lead to one in the eighth. Anthony Rendon doubled to left field and scored on Wieters' two-out single.

Ender Inciarte continued his push for 200 hits when he led off the first with a triple to right field. It was his 191st hit, the third-highest total in the majors. Inciarte scored on Albies' single.

The game was delayed several minutes in the middle of the eighth. There was confusion as Nationals manager Dusty Baker attempted to make several defensive changes and had to go over the changes with home plate umpire Nic Lentz, who also took questions from Braves manager Brian Snitker.

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Ryan Zimmerman sets career high in homers vs. Braves

Ryan Zimmerman sets career high in homers vs. Braves

Ryan Zimmerman's resurgent season continues to get more and more impressive. 

Zimmerman hit his 34th home run of the season on Thursday night, setting a new career high. 

His previous career high was set in 2009, when he hit 33 while slashing .292/.364/.525 with a .888 OPS. 

He didn't get cheated on it, either: 

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