Zimmermann looks sharp, other pitchers more shaky as Nationals outlast Braves

Washington 16, Atlanta 15

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VIERA, Fla. — Jordan Zimmermann breezed through two shutout innings with only 20 pitches for the Washington Nationals in what turned into a wild, 16-15 win over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

Atlanta's Freddie Freeman hits an RBI double in the third inning against Washington. He finished 1 for 3 with a run in the loss.  ALEX BRANDON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
ALEX BRANDON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Atlanta's Freddie Freeman hits an RBI double in the third inning against Washington. He finished 1 for 3 with a run in the loss.

Zimmermann, who tied for the NL lead with 19 wins last season, gave up one hit and struck out one in his brief appearance.

The right-hander had a lot of success with his changeup last year and was pleased with the pitch on Saturday, particularly in the first inning when he got Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman to ground out.

Atlanta and Washington combined for 31 runs on 37 hits, including 11 doubles. There were six errors, five by Washington, and a combined 14 walks.

Mike Fontenot drove in four runs and Tyler Moore had three RBI for the Nationals. Jordan Schafer went 3 for 3 and doubled twice for Atlanta. Matt Lipka had three hits and four RBI.

The scoring came mostly in the middle innings. It was 2-all after the third, and 16-15 after the sixth.

The Braves got nine runs in the top of the fifth to take a 14-6 lead, but the Nationals rallied with five runs each in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings – while only getting three hits.

Braves’ styarter Julio Teheran threw two scoreless innings, striking out one and giving up two hits while tossing 30 pitches, 21 for strikes.

Teheran was particularly happy with his slider, which he used to strike out Anthony Rendon in the first inning.

“It was exciting to come back on the mound and do what I expect – just throw strikes,” Teheran said. “In the off-season I’ve been trying to (perfect) my curveball and my slider.”

• Braves outfielder Justin Upton is expected to play today against the Astros.

Upton felt soreness in his right side and was scratched before last Wednesday’s spring opener against Houston.

Catcher Gerald Laird, who has been experiencing back spasms, is expected
to play either today or Mon­day.

• Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth will play his first game of the spring today, when right-hander Doug Fister takes the mound for his new team against the Miami Marlins.

Manager Matt Williams announced lefty Ross Detwiler will start Monday’s road game against the Yankees. Righty Stephen Strasburg will make his first spring start on Tuesday against the Braves.

• Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez expects good things from Washington’s new skipper.

“I think he’ll make a damn good manager, I really do,” Gonzalez said of Williams. “When he was a player, it seemed like he held his teammates accountable for stuff. I suspect that will transfer over as a manager, which is a good trait to have.”

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