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WSH@SD: Zimmermann tosses six frames of one-run ball

SAN DIEGO -- Jordan Zimmermann helped his fellow starters break a team record, and the Nationals' offense came alive in a 7-2 win over the Padres in the second of a three-game series Wednesday at Petco Park.

The victory was the fourth in a row and seventh in eight games for the surging Nationals, who have won all six series so far this season and, at 14-4, have the National League's best record.

"The guys are playing hard," manager Davey Johnson said. "It's important to get off to a good start. A lot of teams get off to pretty good starts, but it's just early. We're not totally at full steam, but we're getting there."

Zimmermann (1-1) threw four scoreless innings before Orlando Hudson touched him for a solo homer in the fifth, snapping a stretch of 26 scoreless innings by Nationals starters. The previous team best was 24 straight, in 2005, which was established by John Patterson, Hector Carrasco, Esteban Loaiza and Livan Hernandez.

"It has just been outstanding," Johnson said of the starting pitching. "Six or seven innings, putting up zeroes, low hits, very few mistakes. They've kind of been competing against each other for who's going to throw the better outing. It's fun to watch."

Searching for his first victory despite allowing one run in each of his previous three starts, Zimmermann tossed six innings in this one. He allowed one run on four hits, striking out six and not issuing a walk, and also drove in a run with a single.

"I felt good," Zimmermann said. "I threw a lot of changeups today. I threw quite a few, and there were some good ones in there. I had a really good curveball, but I didn't have much of a slider. Whenever I got into trouble, I mixed in a curveball. Everything was working today."

Padres manager Bud Black spoke highly of Zimmermann as well.

"Four pitches," Black said. "Solid fastball in and out, slider, curve and a change. Curve behind in the count. He threw it behind in the hitter's count for strikes. He threw a lot of strikes. He was very efficient with the fastball. He has good stuff."

Including the Hudson homer, Washington pitchers have allowed just four long balls on the year, fewest in the Majors.

"It's pretty nice going out there when you've got a two-run lead in a big ballpark like this," Zimmermann said. "If you get behind on someone, you can groove them something over the middle and let them put it in play and get themselves out."

Washington broke the game open against the San Diego bullpen with a four-run seventh. Wilson Ramos drove in two with a single, and Jayson Werth earned a bases-loaded walk as the Nationals padded the lead to 6-1.

Adam LaRoche had three hits, drove in a run and scored one as well. With sluggers Ryan Zimmerman and Mike Morse out with injuries, Johnson spoke about the importance of LaRoche's contributions.

"He has been carrying us," Johnson said. "And he's usually a slow starter, so the change in that trend has been huge. He has been our guy in the lineup."

Tom Gorzelanny pitched three innings, allowing one run, in relief of Zimmermann to record his second career save, and he drove in a run as well, in the eighth.

Shortstop Ian Desmond acknowledged the team's hot start -- it's best ever through 18 games -- but cautioned about focusing on the implications.

"14-4, that's grooving," Desmond said. "It doesn't matter if we score 15 runs a game or one, as long as you win. We're not putting too much pressure on ourselves, and we just want to keep it going."

Joe Wieland (0-3) allowed two runs in six innings and took the loss for San Diego, which has not won a series this season.

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