Nationals 2, Rockies 0

For the first time in his big league career, Ryan Zimmerman is

on a team that heads into the All-Star break with a .500

record.

He even coined a new term, calling the 46-46 mark for his

Washington Nationals at this point of the season a

”mini-accomplishment.”

Jordan Zimmermann took a shutout into the seventh inning, Roger

Bernadina and Rick Ankiel provided the offense, and Washington beat

the Colorado Rockies 2-0 Sunday to get to the Midsummer Classic at

.500 for the first time since 2005.

”Being at .500 is by no means acceptable, but I don’t think

we’ve been at .500 at the break for a while,” said Zimmerman, who

became a regular in the majors in 2006. ”So I guess it’s kind of a

mini-accomplishment, but we’re not by any means happy with it. We

know we have a good team here, and we want to win this year.”

Washington was 52-36 at the All-Star break in 2005, the team’s

first year in the nation’s capital after moving from Montreal, but

finished that season 81-81.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson was asked whether that

break-even record holds significance for an organization that

finished with more than 100 losses in both 2008 and 2009.

”Not to me, it doesn’t,” Johnson said. ”It’s how many you get

over .500 that counts.”

Sunday’s result amounted to a rout for the Nationals, whose

previous 10 victories had come by either one run or in extra

innings. They ended a three-game losing streak, too – and each of

those defeats were by a single run.

”They’re fun when they’re hotly contested on both sides,”

Johnson said. ”Every matchup is important.”

Zimmermann (6-7) went 6 1-3 innings, allowing four singles. He

also struck out six and didn’t walk anyone, continuing his

impressive return from reconstructive elbow surgery.

”My slider was probably the best it’s ever been,” said

Zimmermann, who didn’t allow a run for the third time in his past

six starts. ”I felt like I could throw it whenever and where I

wanted to.”

He used that sweeping pitch to strike out Mark Ellis, the second

batter of the game.

”That was disgusting,” said Nationals closer Drew Storen, who

worked around a double in the ninth inning for his 23rd save in 26

chances.

”If you’ve got a guy who can throw his fastball wherever he

wants it, when he’s throwing that hard, and the slider and breaking

ball he’s got, he’s going to be tough to hit,” said Ellis, who was

0 for 4.

Still, Zimmermann nearly was matched by Colorado’s Jhoulys

Chacin (8-7), who gave up one run and four hits in seven

innings.

Said Ellis: ”You just hate to waste a pitching performance like

we had today.”

Bernadina hit a broken-bat RBI single in the sixth, while Ankiel

hit his third homer of the season, off reliever Matt Reynolds in

the eighth.

”That second run was sure sweet,” Johnson said. ”I felt a lot

better.”

Zimmermann has pitched at least six innings in 13 consecutive

outings, but because the Nationals have him on a restricted innings

count this season – and because the temperature was 88 degrees at

the start on a muggy afternoon – Johnson removed the righty after

88 pitches.

”I’m sure everybody in the stands thought I gave him a quick

hook. Probably was,” Johnson said. ”But I do that a lot.”

It probably did not hurt Zimmermann that Rockies manager Jim

Tracy held three starting position players out of the lineup so

they’d get an extended rest because of the midseason break that

begins Monday: Carlos Gonzalez, who recently missed four games with

a bruised right wrist; Ty Wigginton and Chris Iannetta.

”We’re obviously very hopeful that we’ll be ready to completely

rock ‘n’ roll by next Thursday,” Tracy said, referring to

Colorado’s next game.

The Rockies fell to 43-48; they were above .500 at this point of

each of the last two seasons.

Now the Nationals finally get to feel what that’s like

again.

”We started off pretty slow this year, and now we got back to

.500,” Zimmermann said, ”and I think we’ve got good momentum

going into the second half.”

NOTES: Rockies 3B Stewart made a nice catch on Wilson Ramos’

foul pop leading off the third, leaning over – and nearly tumbling

over – the railing in front of the visitors’ dugout. … Nationals

RHP Tyler Clippard said Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki offered to give

him a lift on a plane to Arizona for the Midsummer Classic. …

Gonzalez came in to play center field as part of a double switch in

the eighth inning. … Colorado OF Charlie Blackmon, who was placed

on the disabled list Friday, will undergo surgery Monday to implant

a pin in his broken left foot.