Ryan Zimmerman belted two home runs and brought in three runs in Sunday’s 9-2 win against the Atlanta Braves to secure first place for the Washington Nationals.
Braves starter Jair Jurrjens (3-4) was knocked around by the Nationals lineup from his first pitch until relief pitcher Luis Avilan was called to the pitcher’s mound to put a stop to Washington’s 6-0 lead. In 2 1/3 innings of work, Jurrjens allowed nine hits and six earned runs, and failed to record a strikeout. Most of the damage Jurrjens suffered was caused by Zimmerman’s two home runs and Danny Espinosa’s double that scored Michael Morse.
The former 13-game winner may have thrown his last pitch as a Braves starter for some time, because of growing speculation that he may be sent to the minors for Randall Delgado or be replaced in the rotation for Atlanta trade targets Ryan Dempster or Zack Grienke. In his first four starts since returning from a stint in the minors, Jurrjens looked promising and posted a 3-0 record with a 2.13 ERA. However, Jurrjens has recently given up 17 hits and 14 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings for a 22.24 ERA. Atlanta has also lost his past two starts by a combined score of 18-2.
“I hope so,” Jurrjens said in response to whether the Braves will keep him in the rotation. “It’s two bad starts. I know it’s really two ugly ones, but since I came up I’ve been really dependable. I hope they give me a chance to prove myself again.”
Sunday was a great audition for Jurrjens, 26, to to secure his position on the pitching staff and raise the spirits in a locker room that is losing confidence in the backend of the rotation.
“We’ve struggled with our consistency because we’ve struggled at the end of our rotation, and you saw it today,” Chipper Jones, who went 5-for-13 with a home run and five RBIs in the series, told the AJC. “It’s a little demoralizing when you’re in a dogfight for the division and you’re constantly fighting from behind.”
Jurrjens’ counterpart, Ross Detwiler (5-3), had a completely different experience pitching on Sunday for the Nationals. Washington’s offense recorded double-digit hits for the third time in the series, and allowed Detwiler to pitch comfortably during his outing. The 26-year-old scattered seven hits and allowed two runs in seven innings to earn his first win since May 3.
“They’ve been playing the best in the division. To win the first two and to get a split out of here, I think if I was them I’d feel deflated,” Washington manager Davey Johnson told ESPN.
The Braves came into their four-game series against the NL East-leading Nationals hoping to close the distance between the clubs in the standings, but they leave Washington, D.C. behind 3 1/2 games after splitting the series. Atlanta will begin their next series in Florida to face the Miami Marlins, who are looking to avoid a season-high sixth straight loss. Although they may not have achieved first place in the NL East, the Braves are only behind the Pittsburgh Pirates a few percentage points for the NL Wild Card lead, and their next 10 games are against the Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies.
About the Author
Written by Jourdan Shepard
New York born. New Jersey bred. Earned my degree on a Georgia clay hill. "Rooting for my rival is like wanting the house to win in blackjack...."