Nats lose 6-2

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This was Jordan Zimmermann’s worst result as a major-league pitcher, but that was probably as much a reflection on the hitters he was facing as the night he had. Albert Pujols had three hits off the rookie, and the Cardinals’ 3-4-5 hitters (Pujols, Chris Duncan and Ryan Ludwick) were 6-for-9 with three homers and five RBI against Zimmermann.

“Up here, they don’t miss hardly as much as they do (in the minor leagues),” Zimmermann said. “You can’t be making those mistakes up here.”

There were several occasions, like on the inside fastball Pujols hit for his first-inning homer, that Zimmermann was trying to miss outside of the strike zone but left the ball a little too far over the plate. That’s going to happen to any pitcher, especially a rookie, and even moreso a pitcher who has the innate ability to throw strikes as well as Zimmermann does. When he misses, sometimes he doesn’t miss in the right spots.

“Let’s say on the Pujols one, 3-1 (count), we pretty much wanted him to walk, basically,” Manny Acta said. “The ball went out over the plate. He’s got such good control that, at times, when we want him to go out of the zone when he’s ahead. He’s a bulldog. He’ll go right after guys, and we like that. I don’t think that, every time he makes a mistake, with his kind of stuff, it’s going to go out of the ballpark from today on. But it happened today.”

The Nationals didn’t do much against Todd Wellemeyer, and when they did, they couldn’t break through. Elijah Dukes doubled to lead off the fourth, but made a critical baserunning error on Jesus Flores’ grounder to short. Dukes broke for third on a ball right in front of him, and was tagged out easily on a fielder’s choice. Willie Harris grounded into a double play to end the inning.

It was the Nationals’ second loss of the homestand, and they’ll try to get a win with Shairon Martis on the mound tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. I’m back moonlighting as a hockey writer for a couple days, but Mark will have all the developments covered.

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