ATLANTA — With apologies to Stephen Strasburg and 20-game winner Gio Gonzalez, the Washington Nationals appear to have a new ace.
Jordan Zimmermann has been downright dominant.
The right-hander threw two-hit ball over eight innings, Ian Desmond hit a two-run homer in the fourth and the Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves, 2-0 Wednesday night.
“Everything was working,” Zimmermann said. “I felt great.”
The Braves had won five in a row this season over their NL East rival, and nine straight dating to last season.
“We needed that one bad and he went out and pitched a blueprint game,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said. “I thought he was one of the elites last year. We just didn't give him a lot of run support.
Zimmermann (5-1) made sure that streak ended, striking out eight and allowing only one runner past first base — fellow pitcher Paul Maholm, who was nearly as stifling for the Braves.
The only Atlanta hitters to reach against Zimmermann were Justin Upton, who singled with two outs in the first, and Maholm, who doubled into the right-field corner in the third.
Zimmermann struck out eight and retired 17 straight Atlanta hitters before giving way to Rafael Soriano, who worked a perfect ninth for his eighth save.
The Nationals snapped a three-game losing streak and got back to .500 for the season.
“He pounded that fastball all night long,” Upton said. “We just couldn’t get it going.”
Maholm (3-3) came close to matching Zimmermann. He allowed only three hits in eight innings, retiring the last 13 batters he faced.