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Nats rout Braves

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WASHINGTON—With a series loss in St. Louis behind them and a showdown with the N.Y. Mets beginning Monday, the Washington Nationals enjoyed a breather last night.

Ryan Zimmerman continued his torrid stretch with three hits and four RBIs, and Jordan Zimmermann pitched six solid innings, as the Nationals opened a seven-game homestand with a 15-1 rout of the Atlanta Braves.

Washington moved within six games of the first-place Mets, who were off yesterday, in the NL East.

“Power and patience,” Nationals’ manager Matt Williams said after his team collected 18 hits and eight walks.

Clint Robinson was 2-for-4 and had four RBIs while Yunel Escobar had three hits and drove in three.

Bryce Harper didn’t swing his bat and tied a career high with walks in all four of his plate appearances, and he scored four runs.

He joined Larry Doby (1951), Joe Morgan (1973), and Rickey Henderson (1989) as the only players to score four runs without an official at-bat since 1914, according to STATS.

“He’s got confidence in the rest of our lineup that when he gets on base we’re going to drive him in,” Robinson said.

Over his last 11 games, Zimmerman, who was 3-for-3 hitting behind Harper last night, is 17-for-42 (.405) with seven homers and 23 RBIs.

“That’s why Bryce didn’t swing at a pitch and scored four runs,” Williams said.

“There’s your proof in the pudding right there.”

Zimmermann (12-8), who has won four-straight, allowed a run and two hits over six innings.

The Braves, meanwhile, now have lost nine-straight games and 16-of-17.

Matt Wisler (5-6) allowed seven runs, five hits, and three walks in just 1 2/3 innings.

The rookie hasn’t won since July 26—going 0-5 with a 9.49 ERA in his last seven starts.

“It’s been a rough month,” Wisler conceded.

“Every fifth day, I try to go out there and improve on what I did, but I haven’t been.”

Atlanta pitchers began play with a 4.45 ERA—13th in the National League.

They have given up 15 or more runs three times in the last seven games.

“These guys are professional, they’re major-leaguers,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Atlanta’s group of young pitchers.

“And for them to get hit around like that is not really acceptable.”

Zimmermann improved to 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA against Atlanta this season.

“We’ve been swinging the bat great lately,” Zimmermann said. “It takes a lot of pressure off us [pitchers].

“We can just go out there and don’t have to be perfect.”

Elsewhere in the NL, Milwaukee beat Pittsburgh 5-3, Colorado dumped San Francisco 11-3, and San Diego topped L.A. 10-7.

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