WASHINGTON — Before many fans had even settled into their seats at Nationals Park on Wednesday night, the Arizona Diamondbacks had already scored twice against one the National League’s best pitchers.
What came easy for Arizona in the first inning didn’t come again.
Jordan Zimmermann dominated after a shaky start and rookie Anthony Rendon had his third three-hit performance as the Washington Nationals took the lead with on an unearned run in the fifth and defeated the Diamondbacks 3-2.
The NL West-leading Diamondbacks have lost three straight, including the first two games of their current 10-game road trip.
“He got rolling,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said of Zimmermann. “Got all of his pitches over, put them where he wanted to. We had some borderline balls that we swung at when he got ahead.”
Zimmermann (11-3) held the Diamondbacks scoreless with one hit over his final six innings. He allowed three hits overall, retired the final 10 batters he faced and improved to 13-0 at home dating back to May 17, 2012.
Zimmermann is tied with Detroit’s Max Scherzer for the major league lead in wins.
Paul Goldschmidt had a one-word response when asked what makes Zimmermann so tough.
“Everything,” he said before elaborating.
“I mean he throws four pitches. Probably the biggest thing is he doesn’t make any mistakes, or very many. Keeps the ball down, or up when he wants to, or on the edges of the plate. Stays away from the middle of the plate,” he said.
Wade Miley (4-7) pitched well enough to win, allowing three runs, two earned. He went seven innings, allowing seven hits and one walk while striking out four.
“I had better location,” Miley said. “Early in the game I was still finding myself. … As the game went on I was able to get ahead. I was able to establish the fastball. Haven’t been able to do that lately.”
Arizona’s starting pitchers are 0-7 in 18 starts since Miley won on June 5.
The Diamondbacks got off to a solid start against Zimmermann.
With one out in the first, Aaron Hill worked out a 12-pitch walk.
“Hill had a pretty good at-bat, and I threw the kitchen sink at him,” Zimmermann said. “He walked and I think I was at 25 (pitches) after the first inning.”
After picking up hits in his final three at-bats on Tuesday, Goldschmidt doubled on a 1-2 pitch in his first at-bat against Zimmermann, scoring Hill from first base. Martin Prado’s two-out single plated Goldschmidt and staked Miley to a 2-0 lead.
“Just got two strikes and trying to put the ball in play, protect, and it ends up sneaking inside the line by an inch or two, and a nice two-out hit by Prado there,” Goldschmidt said. “We didn’t necessarily have a bad approach the rest of the game. He made some good pitches and we weren’t able to get anything going.”
Ryan Zimmerman’s RBI double in the bottom half of the first made it 2-1 and Tyler Moore’s solo homer in the fourth tied it.
Denard Span singled against Miley leading off the fifth, advanced to second on a passed ball by catcher Miguel Montero, moved to third on Rendon’s third hit and crossed home with an unearned run when Zimmerman hit into a double play.
“Uncharacteristic,” Gibson said of Montero’s miscue. “We got the groundball after that, and we would have had a guy on third with two outs, and just a tight game and it ended up costing us.”
Arizona’s only hit against Zimmermann after the first inning was Jason Kubel’s two-out single in the fourth. Tyler Clippard worked the eighth and Rafael Soriano closed out the ninth for his 21st save.
Soriano allowed a one-out single to Montero and issued an intentional walk to Kubel after Montero advanced to second on a groundout. A.J. Pollock’s popup ended the game.
Rendon had two singles and double in his first three at-bats before a flyout to the wall in the eighth. Since being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on June 4, he has multihit performances in 10 of 18 games and is batting .392 (29 for 74).
NOTES: INF Willie Bloomquist pinch-hit in the seventh and was hit on the left hand by Clippard. “He’s getting an X-ray now,” Gibson said after the game. “It doesn’t look good. It swelled up right away.” . Miley is 0-2 in his last four starts. … Arizona fell to 17-11 in one-run games. The 17 wins leads the majors. … Arizona LHP Patrick Corbin (9-0, 2.28) faces RHP Stephen Strasburg (4-6, 2.40) in Thursday’s series finale.