Zimmerman, Turner lead Nats to 2-1 victory over Diamondbacks
WASHINGTON (AP) Jacob Turner never imagined his first win in Washington would come like this.
Turner pitched four innings of scoreless relief to save a depleted bullpen, Ryan Zimmerman doubled in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning and the Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-1 on Wednesday night.
”I don’t think I’ve ever thrown four out of the bullpen,” said Turner (1-0), who before this outing appeared headed to the rotation. ”So I wouldn’t say you come in expecting that, no.”
Zimmerman finished 2 for 3 to set a career high with his sixth straight multihit game.
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez drove in Washington’s other run with a third-inning groundout, making up for an uneven outing that included eight strikeouts and a career high-tying seven walks.
”I can’t explain that line,” said Gonzalez, who allowed three hits but threw 105 pitches. ”I don’t know what to say.”
Robbie Ray (2-2) struck out 10 against the team that drafted and signed him in 2010, but allowed two runs and four hits over six innings. He helped the Diamondbacks set a major league record by recording 10 or more strikeouts in nine consecutive games.
”It was really unfortunate,” manager Torey Lovullo said of Ray, who is tied for the major league lead with 49 strikeouts. ”We just didn’t execute behind him in a couple of key situations and unfortunately we couldn’t score some runs.”
Washington optioned Joe Ross to Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday, with Turner the likely candidate to replace him as a starter.
Instead, he came on for Gonzalez and cruised, allowing only two hits while striking out four to aid a bullpen that had to work eight innings over its previous two games.
”If we (went) extra innings, they had us outmanned pitching wise, and so we had to make a decision, `Do we stick with Turner?”’ Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. ”It was a lot easier decision since we were home with the last at-bat.”
After Turner’s first inning, Zimmerman ripped Ray’s 2-2 slider beyond center fielder A.J. Pollock to score Bryce Harper from first with two outs.
After a clean top of seventh, Baker sent Turner to the plate rather than a pinch hitter.
”Once I batted for myself, I felt like I should finish the game,” Turner said.
”That was very impressive,” Baker said. ”He kept throwing strikes. And when he got behind, he threw another strike. … They’ve got a good lineup over there. And he was dealing.”
Diamondbacks: David Peralta (illness) was out of the starting lineup for a second day, but Lovullo expected him to start in the series finale Thursday. … RHP Shelby Miller’s Tommy John surgery has been scheduled for May 10.
Nationals: INF Stephen Drew (hamstring) did hitting and fielding drills but won’t go on a rehab assignment until after he’s resumed running at full speed.
Baker said the 32-year-old Zimmerman ”may exceed every number he’s ever had” this season.
Earlier Wednesday, Zimmerman was named the NL Player of the Month for April. He is batting .427 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs. In his only All-Star season in 2009, he hit .292 with 33 homers and 106 RBIs.
LOST IN THE LIGHTS
Ray struck out his first five batters and was perfect until Michael Taylor tripled to lead off the third. Yasmany Tomas lost that hit in the lights while making an awkward lunge at it, and then remained on the ground as Pollock chased.
”The part we’re going to address as quickly as possible – and we have addressed it – is that he needs to get up and chase that ball and make a little bit of a better effort,” Lovullo said.
The Nationals send ace Max Scherzer (3-2, 2.94) to the mound for the finale of their three-game set against the Diamondbacks. He was selected by Arizona in the first round of the 2006 draft and made his debut with the Diamondbacks in 2008. He is 4-0 with a 2.65 ERA in five career starts against his first major league team. Braden Shipley makes his first start of the season for the Diamondbacks.
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