Zimmerman, Strasburg lead Nationals past Twins 6-2

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Washington Nationals relied on a couple of old standbys for an important victory toward their postseason push.

The Minnesota Twins, thinned out for the moment by a long list of injuries, could use someone healthy players to lean on.

Ryan Zimmerman homered and drove in three runs in support of Stephen Strasburg, who gave the Nationals six strong innings to beat the Twins 6-2 on Wednesday night for just their third win in the last nine games.

Juan Soto and Zimmerman hit RBI singles in the first inning against Martin Perez, who fell further behind in the third when Howie Kendrick doubled in Soto with two outs and Zimmerman followed with his two-run smash into the left field seats for a 5-0 lead.

''We talk about it every day: Come out and try to get that lead early. You put the pressure on the other team right away,'' manager Dave Martinez said.

Zimmerman, the all-time Nationals leader in almost every offensive category, added a few more to the pile with his second three-hit game of the season. The 34-year-old Zimmerman missed 90 games due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot, but he has three homers and 10 RBIs in seven games this month since returning.

''I still have confidence in myself. I still know that, if I can stay on the field, I can produce and be helpful in many ways,'' Zimmerman said. ''This year has been really frustrating. We've talked about it. The rest of my body has felt great. Obviously the foot hasn't cooperated. But there's no reason in whining or complaining about it now. Just kind of battle through it.''

Strasburg (17-6) gave up a two-run homer to Jorge Polanco in the third, but he allowed only four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. The Nationals are 113-17 in his career when scoring three or more runs while he's in the game. In his last five turns, Strasburg has a 1.91 ERA with 19 hits and 44 strikeouts in 33 innings.

''If you give them the cushion, they know how to use it,'' Zimmerman said. ''It's definitely to our advantage.''

Trea Turner added a late home run to pad the lead for the worst bullpen in the National League, with a collective ERA of 5.77. Four relievers kept the Twins from scoring, despite two runners reaching base in both the eighth and ninth, preserving a NL-leading and career-high 17th victory for Strasburg.

''It's next to my name, but they've got to go out there and score some runs,'' Strasburg said. ''They've been able to do that more times than not for me.''

The Nationals, who trail Atlanta by 9 1/2 games in the NL East, took a 2 1/2-game cushion between them and the Chicago Cubs for the two wild card spots, with the Cubs playing later in San Diego. The Nationals are 3 1/2 games above the cut, ahead of Milwaukee.

SHORT-HANDED

The Twins had their lead on Cleveland in the AL Central whittled to four games. They have five fewer losses than the Indians, who are idle on Thursday while the Twins finish with the Nationals. The division rivals will start their last head-to-head series of the season in Cleveland on Friday.

Perez (10-7) didn't help their cause, but most of the six hits he allowed in five innings could've easily been outs. With regulars C.J. Cron, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez all on the bench with minor injuries along with Jake Cave, the replacement for Byron Buxton, the Twins had Eddie Rosario in right field instead of his usual spot in left. He took awkward route toward Kendrick's double, a hard-hit but reachable ball that could've been caught to end that inning.

''Eddie probably makes that play the vast majority of the time,'' manager Rocco Baldelli said.

REMEMBERING 9/11

Coaches and players for both teams stood on the foul lines, opening day-style, next to 45 first responders from area police, fire and emergency medical service departments in a pregame recognition of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. For Nationals manager Dave Martinez, the memory was particularly poignant, since he was playing first base for the Braves in the first game in New York after the twin towers fell when Mike Piazza hit a goosebump-inducing homer in the eighth inning.

''I just kind of stood back and just watched him drive by me like, `Oh, wow, just listen,''' Martinez said. ''You can hear the fans. You look in the stands, and people were crying. There were so many people from the fire department and police department there at the game, and it was something.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Joe Ross, who hurt his forearm during a bullpen session last week and was scratched from his last start in favor of RHP Austin Voth, will remain out of the rotation for now.

''We're going to take this really slow with him because of his history, but he's doing better,'' Martinez said.

Twins: Kepler did some swinging without trouble before the game. Baldelli said some of the absent players would be back soon.

''We're treating everything as responsibly as we can. Our guys are dealing with injuries. This isn't like, `Hey, we're resting guys and trying to keep them out of the lineup getting them ready for the last couple weeks of the season,''' Baldelli said.

UP NEXT

Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin (11-7, 3.16 ERA) will pitch on Thursday. The two-time All-Star is 6-2 with a 2.29 ERA over his last 15 starts, with a .208 batting average against and 116 strikeouts in 94 1/3 innings. He has never faced the Twins before.

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (13-6, 4.58 ERA) will take the mound for the series finale, his first turn in almost two weeks because of weakness from ulcerative colitis, a digestive track disease that has caused him to lose 10 pounds during this trying season. Taking a more aggressive anti-inflammatory medication has helped Gibson feel better lately and regain some strength he needs for his delivery to properly push with his legs.

''It just takes a lot of the tax off of my upper body,'' Gibson said.

---

More AP MLB coverage: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Copyright 2019 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

123456789RHE
WAS80-64
203000001690
MIN89-56
002000000280
  • W: S. Strasburg (17-6)L: M. Perez (10-7)
  • HR: WAS - R. Zimmerman (6), T. Turner (14), MIN - J. Polanco (21)
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
T. Turner SS51111001.299.355.482.8376.0
A. Eaton RF51100001.283.370.435.8063.0
M. Taylor RF00000000.210.273.272.5440.0
A. Rendon 3B41000110.333.415.6231.0371.5
J. Soto LF31110100.295.405.574.9794.0
H. Kendrick DH41310002.332.380.553.9336.0
R. Zimmerman 1B41331011.254.312.444.7569.5
B. Dozier 2B40000014.234.338.427.765-0.5
Y. Gomes C30000132.212.311.356.667-0.5
V. Robles CF40000021.247.319.422.742-1.0
    HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
    L. Arraez LF51300001.347.413.448.8604.0
    J. Polanco SS51221013.299.361.490.8517.5
    N. Cruz DH20000210.300.381.618.9991.5
    E. Rosario RF40000004.273.297.487.7840.0
    W. Astudillo 1B40000014.269.293.378.672-0.5
    E. Adrianza 3B40000022.272.349.416.765-1.0
    L. Wade CF30000120.067.440.067.5070.0
    J. Schoop 2B40100000.255.308.479.7872.0
    J. Castro C40200012.241.332.449.7811.5
      BATTING
      • 2B - A. Eaton (23), H. Kendrick (23)
      • HR - T. Turner (14), R. Zimmerman (6)
      • RBI - T. Turner (47), J. Soto (102), H. Kendrick (57), R. Zimmerman 3 (25)
      • 2-Out RBI - H. Kendrick (16), R. Zimmerman 3 (11)
      • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - A. Eaton (48), R. Zimmerman, B. Dozier (40), Y. Gomes (27)
      BATTING
      • 2B - J. Schoop (22)
      • HR - J. Polanco (21)
      • RBI - J. Polanco 2 (74)
      • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - L. Arraez, J. Polanco (38), W. Astudillo (17), E. Adrianza (16), J. Castro 2 (21)
      PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
      S. Strasburg (W, 17-6)6.04222713.491.0523.5
      W. Suero (H, 17)0.21000104.391.22-0.5
      S. Doolittle (H, 1)0.10000004.071.360.0
      F. Rodney (H, 12)1.01001005.401.601.0
      D. Hudson1.02000002.811.221.0
      PITCHERSIP
      S. Strasburg (W, 17-6)6.0
      W. Suero (H, 17)0.2
      S. Doolittle (H, 1)0.1
      F. Rodney (H, 12)1.0
      D. Hudson1.0
      PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
      M. Perez (L, 10-7)5.06553414.891.47-2.0
      Z. Littell1.00000103.101.213.5
      B. Graterol1.00000109.002.003.5
      F. Romero1.02000105.912.061.5
      R. Dobnak1.01110112.251.581.5
      PITCHERSIP
      M. Perez (L, 10-7)5.0
      Z. Littell1.0
      B. Graterol1.0
      F. Romero1.0
      R. Dobnak1.0
      PITCHING
      • Pitches-Strikes - S. Strasburg 104-66, W. Suero 16-10, S. Doolittle 6-4, F. Rodney 18-11, D. Hudson 16-9
      • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - S. Strasburg 7-4, W. Suero 1-0, D. Hudson 2-1
      • Batters Faced - S. Strasburg 24, W. Suero 3, S. Doolittle, F. Rodney 5, D. Hudson 5
      PITCHING
      • Pitches-Strikes - M. Perez 90-59, Z. Littell 13-10, B. Graterol 23-18, F. Romero 21-15, R. Dobnak 11-8
      • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - M. Perez 3-8, Z. Littell 2-0, B. Graterol 1-1, F. Romero 1-1, R. Dobnak 1-1
      • Batters Faced - M. Perez 24, Z. Littell 3, B. Graterol 3, F. Romero 5, R. Dobnak 4
      PLAYERS OF THE GAME
      123456789RHE
      WAS80-64
      203000001690
      MIN89-56
      002000000280
      HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
      T. Turner SS51111001.299.355.482.8376.0
      A. Eaton RF51100001.283.370.435.8063.0
      M. Taylor RF00000000.210.273.272.5440.0
      A. Rendon 3B41000110.333.415.6231.0371.5
      J. Soto LF31110100.295.405.574.9794.0
      H. Kendrick DH41310002.332.380.553.9336.0
      R. Zimmerman 1B41331011.254.312.444.7569.5
      B. Dozier 2B40000014.234.338.427.765-0.5
      Y. Gomes C30000132.212.311.356.667-0.5
      V. Robles CF40000021.247.319.422.742-1.0
      Total3669623812-----
        HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
        L. Arraez LF51300001.347.413.448.8604.0
        J. Polanco SS51221013.299.361.490.8517.5
        N. Cruz DH20000210.300.381.618.9991.5
        E. Rosario RF40000004.273.297.487.7840.0
        W. Astudillo 1B40000014.269.293.378.672-0.5
        E. Adrianza 3B40000022.272.349.416.765-1.0
        L. Wade CF30000120.067.440.067.5070.0
        J. Schoop 2B40100000.255.308.479.7872.0
        J. Castro C40200012.241.332.449.7811.5
        Total3528213816-----
          BATTING
          • 2B - A. Eaton (23), H. Kendrick (23)
          • HR - T. Turner (14), R. Zimmerman (6)
          • RBI - T. Turner (47), J. Soto (102), H. Kendrick (57), R. Zimmerman 3 (25)
          • 2-Out RBI - H. Kendrick (16), R. Zimmerman 3 (11)
          • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - A. Eaton (48), R. Zimmerman, B. Dozier (40), Y. Gomes (27)
          BATTING
          • 2B - J. Schoop (22)
          • HR - J. Polanco (21)
          • RBI - J. Polanco 2 (74)
          • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - L. Arraez, J. Polanco (38), W. Astudillo (17), E. Adrianza (16), J. Castro 2 (21)
          PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
          S. Strasburg (W, 17-6)6.04222713.491.0523.5
          W. Suero (H, 17)0.21000104.391.22-0.5
          S. Doolittle (H, 1)0.10000004.071.360.0
          F. Rodney (H, 12)1.01001005.401.601.0
          D. Hudson1.02000002.811.221.0
          Total9.0822381---
          PITCHERSIP
          S. Strasburg (W, 17-6)6.0
          W. Suero (H, 17)0.2
          S. Doolittle (H, 1)0.1
          F. Rodney (H, 12)1.0
          D. Hudson1.0
          Total9.0
          PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
          M. Perez (L, 10-7)5.06553414.891.47-2.0
          Z. Littell1.00000103.101.213.5
          B. Graterol1.00000109.002.003.5
          F. Romero1.02000105.912.061.5
          R. Dobnak1.01110112.251.581.5
          Total9.0966382---
          PITCHERSIP
          M. Perez (L, 10-7)5.0
          Z. Littell1.0
          B. Graterol1.0
          F. Romero1.0
          R. Dobnak1.0
          Total9.0
          PITCHING
          • Pitches-Strikes - S. Strasburg 104-66, W. Suero 16-10, S. Doolittle 6-4, F. Rodney 18-11, D. Hudson 16-9
          • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - S. Strasburg 7-4, W. Suero 1-0, D. Hudson 2-1
          • Batters Faced - S. Strasburg 24, W. Suero 3, S. Doolittle, F. Rodney 5, D. Hudson 5
          PITCHING
          • Pitches-Strikes - M. Perez 90-59, Z. Littell 13-10, B. Graterol 23-18, F. Romero 21-15, R. Dobnak 11-8
          • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - M. Perez 3-8, Z. Littell 2-0, B. Graterol 1-1, F. Romero 1-1, R. Dobnak 1-1
          • Batters Faced - M. Perez 24, Z. Littell 3, B. Graterol 3, F. Romero 5, R. Dobnak 4
          • 9TH INNING
            Turner homered to left center62
          • 3RD INNING
            Polanco homered to center, Arraez scored52
            Zimmerman homered to left center, Kendrick scored50
            Kendrick doubled to deep right, Soto scored30
          • 1ST INNING
            Zimmerman singled to center, Rendon scored, Soto to third20
            Soto singled to center, Eaton scored, Rendon to second10
          • 9TH INNING
            • Randy Dobnak relieved Fernando Romero
            • V. Robles: Strike looking, Foul, Strike swinging, Robles struck out swinging
            • Tr. Turner: Foul, Ball, Turner homered to left center
            • A. Eaton: Ball, Eaton grounded out to second
            • A. Rendon: Ball, Foul, Rendon lined out to left
            • Middle of the 9th (1 Run, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
            • Daniel Hudson relieved Fernando Rodney
            • Michael Taylor in right field
            • L. Wade: Ball, Foul, Ball, Wade grounded out to first
            • J. Schoop: Ball, Schoop fouled out to catcher
            • J. Castro: Castro singled to left
            • L. Arraez: Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Arraez singled to center, Castro to second
            • J. Polanco: Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Polanco grounded out to first
            • End of the 9th (0 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 8TH INNING
            • Fernando Romero relieved Brusdar Graterol
            • J. Soto: Strike looking, Strike looking, Soto grounded out to first
            • H. Kendrick: Strike looking, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Foul, Kendrick singled to right
            • R. Zimmerman: Zimmerman singled to center, Kendrick to second
            • B. Dozier: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Ball, Dozier popped out to second
            • Y. Gomes: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Strike swinging, Gomes struck out swinging
            • Middle of the 8th (0 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • Fernando Rodney relieved Sean Doolittle
            • J. Polanco: Strike looking, Polanco reached on an infield single to shortstop
            • N. Cruz: Strike swinging, Foul, Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball, Cruz walked, Polanco to second
            • E. Rosario: Foul, Rosario flied out to deep left
            • W. Astudillo: Ball, Foul, Astudillo flied out to center
            • E. Adrianza: Foul, Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Adrianza popped out to shortstop
            • End of the 8th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
          • 7TH INNING
            • Brusdar Graterol relieved Zack Littell
            • Tr. Turner: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Turner grounded out to second
            • A. Eaton: Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Foul, Eaton flied out to center
            • A. Rendon: Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Strike swinging, Rendon struck out swinging
            • Middle of the 7th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • Wander Suero relieved Stephen Strasburg
            • L. Wade: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Wade struck out swinging
            • J. Schoop: Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Foul, Schoop grounded out to third
            • J. Castro: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Strike swinging, Castro singled to right
            • Sean Doolittle relieved Wander Suero
            • L. Arraez: Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Ball, Ball, Arraez lined out to left
            • End of the 7th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
          • 6TH INNING
            • Zack Littell relieved Martin Perez
            • B. Dozier: Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Foul, Dozier grounded out to third
            • Y. Gomes: Strike looking, Strike (foul tip), Strike swinging, Gomes struck out swinging
            • V. Robles: Strike swinging, Robles grounded out to third
            • Middle of the 6th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • S. Strasburg Pitching:
            • E. Rosario: Strike looking, Rosario flied out to deep right
            • W. Astudillo: Ball, Foul, Astudillo flied out to left
            • E. Adrianza: Adrianza grounded bunt out to pitcher
            • End of the 6th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 5TH INNING
            • M. Perez Pitching:
            • A. Rendon: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, Rendon grounded out to shortstop
            • J. Soto: Foul, Soto lined out to first
            • H. Kendrick: Strike looking, Ball, Kendrick singled to left
            • R. Zimmerman: Pickoff attempt, Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Strike looking, Zimmerman struck out looking
            • Middle of the 5th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
            • S. Strasburg Pitching:
            • L. Arraez: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Arraez grounded out to second
            • J. Polanco: Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Foul, Foul, Polanco grounded out to pitcher
            • N. Cruz: Strike (foul tip), Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Foul, Ball, Cruz grounded out to third
            • End of the 5th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 4TH INNING
            • M. Perez Pitching:
            • Y. Gomes: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Gomes walked
            • V. Robles: Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Strike swinging, Robles struck out swinging
            • Tr. Turner: Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Turner grounded out to second, Gomes to second
            • A. Eaton: Ball, Strike looking, Strike looking, Eaton flied out to center
            • Middle of the 4th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • S. Strasburg Pitching:
            • W. Astudillo: Ball, Foul, Foul, Ball, Strike swinging, Astudillo struck out swinging
            • E. Adrianza: Foul, Strike swinging, Ball, Strike swinging, Adrianza struck out swinging
            • L. Wade: Ball, Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Wade walked
            • J. Schoop: Ball, Pickoff attempt, Schoop doubled to deep right, Wade to third
            • J. Castro: Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Castro struck out looking
            • End of the 4th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
          • 3RD INNING
            • M. Perez Pitching:
            • A. Eaton: Ball, Strike looking, Eaton flied out to deep center
            • A. Rendon: Rendon popped out to second
            • J. Soto: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Soto walked
            • H. Kendrick: Strike looking, Foul, Kendrick doubled to deep right, Soto scored
            • R. Zimmerman: Foul, Zimmerman homered to left center, Kendrick scored
            • B. Dozier: Strike swinging, Ball, Ball, Foul, Strike looking, Dozier struck out looking
            • Middle of the 3rd (3 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • S. Strasburg Pitching:
            • J. Castro: Ball, Strike swinging, Strike looking, Castro grounded out to pitcher
            • L. Arraez: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Arraez singled to left
            • J. Polanco: Foul, Polanco homered to center, Arraez scored
            • N. Cruz: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Ball, Strike swinging, Cruz struck out swinging
            • E. Rosario: Rosario lined out to center
            • End of the 3rd (2 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 2ND INNING
            • M. Perez Pitching:
            • Y. Gomes: Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Ball, Strike swinging, Gomes struck out swinging
            • V. Robles: Foul, Robles flied out to left
            • Tr. Turner: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Turner grounded out to second
            • Middle of the 2nd (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • S. Strasburg Pitching:
            • E. Adrianza: Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Strike swinging, Adrianza struck out swinging
            • L. Wade: Foul, Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Strike swinging, Wade struck out swinging
            • J. Schoop: Schoop fouled out to third
            • End of the 2nd (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
          • 1ST INNING
            • M. Perez Pitching:
            • Tr. Turner: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Turner fouled out to first
            • A. Eaton: Strike looking, Ball, Eaton doubled to left center
            • A. Rendon: Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Rendon walked
            • J. Soto: Ball, Soto singled to center, Eaton scored, Rendon to second
            • H. Kendrick: Foul, Kendrick popped out to second
            • R. Zimmerman: Strike looking, Zimmerman singled to center, Rendon scored, Soto to third
            • B. Dozier: Strike looking, Dozier lined out to third
            • Middle of the 1st (2 Runs, 3 Hits, 0 Errors)
            • S. Strasburg Pitching:
            • L. Arraez: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Arraez reached on an infield single to third
            • J. Polanco: Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Ball, Pickoff attempt, Ball, Foul, Foul, Strike swinging, Polanco struck out swinging
            • N. Cruz: Strike swinging, Foul, Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball, Cruz walked, Arraez to second
            • E. Rosario: Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Rosario reached on fielder's choice to second, Arraez to third, Cruz out at second
            • W. Astudillo: Foul, Ball, Astudillo grounded out to shortstop
            • End of the 1st (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)