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Jordan held the Mets to just one run over six innings and the Nationals’ lead was such that by the time he was pulled the game’s outcome was all but decided.

“The talent is there,” Johnson said. “I’ve never given up on the talent. It’s just, we need to start expressing it more often. … That was so good.”

The most oft-discussed culprit for the Nationals’ struggles has been their offense, which has scored one run or fewer a remarkable 28 times, but it is hardly the only reason. Between the struggles of Dan Haren and the injuries to Ross Detwiler, the back end of the Nationals’ rotation has been its own question mark.

In the past three games, the Nationals have received superb starts from Ross Ohlendorf, Haren and Jordan. They’ve combined to allow three total runs over 20 innings — a 1.35 ERA.

Pulling to within eight games of the Braves, and potentially jumping to 7 1/2 games back depending on the outcome of Atlanta’s late game, their rotation is set to run through once more this week with five games over the next seven days.

Then the Nationals will have Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann lined up for an important series against the Braves beginning Aug. 5.

“I think the pitching’s coming around and obviously the hitting’s coming with it,” said Johnson, pointing out how his starters would line up for this week and next.

“We’re right where we need to be.”