ATLANTA (AP) — The Washington Nationals have lost their leadoff hitter for a week and a key bat in the middle of their lineup for much longer.
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was lost for four to six weeks with a fractured right thumb in the Nationals' 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night. Zimmerman's injury came after leadoff hitter and centerfielder Denard Span was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion before the game.
"Nobody is going to feel sorry for us," said Washington manager Matt Williams. "You've gotta play." Zimmerman had a double and a walk before he was hurt diving back to the bag when he was picked off second base in the fifth.
"I think he did it on the bag," Williams said. "It's unfortunate, but we've got to step forward from here." Zimmerman appeared to be simply upset about being picked off before he looked at his thumb, looked back at the dugout, and then slowly rose to his feet and left the field.
Following Zimmerman's exit, Anthony Rendon moved from second base to third and Danny Espinosa entered the game at second base. "It's not our first choice, certainly, but the fact they can play multiple positions is good in times like this," Williams said.
"You certainly never want to miss somebody like Zimmerman for that amount of time. ... All we can do is just play." Rendon led off the game with his second homer. Span had headaches following a collision on the basepath with Uggla on Friday night.
Right fielder Jayson Werth, who left Friday night's game with cramping in his groin, did not start. He had a pinch-hit infield single in the eighth following Sandy Leon's run-scoring single. Freeman's throwing error on Werth's hit left runners at first and third, but Rendon's fly to center ended the inning.
Washington's makeshift outfield included Bryce Harper in center, Kevin Frandsen in left and Nate McLouth in right. Freddie Freeman had three hits, including a homer, and B.J. Upton had two hits, including his first homer, for Atlanta. Dan Uggla drove in two runs with two hits.
After winning two of three at Washington in the opening week, the Braves have won the first two games of a weekend home series against their NL East rivals. Since the start of the 2013 season, Atlanta has won 17 of the last 24 games in the rivalry.
Justin Upton had three hits, including two doubles, to extend his tear at the plate. Evan Gattis also had three hits. Washington starter Taylor Jordan (0-1) allowed five runs on 10 hits and two walks in five innings.
"I just wasn't hitting my spots, and they capitalized on that," said Jordan, who gave up four runs on five hits, including B.J. Upton's homer, in the first. "A very tough first inning," Jordan said. Nationals right-hander Blake Treinen, called up from Triple-A Syracuse before the game, pitched two scoreless innings in his major league debut.
Braves left-hander Alex Wood (2-1) allowed one run on six hits and three walks in five innings. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his fifth save. Williams used his replay challenge in the second inning after McLouth, credited with a sacrifice bunt, was called out at first base. The call by umpire Angel Hernandez stood following a video review.
Williams could have used his challenge two innings later when replays indicated first baseman Adam LaRoche snagged a liner by Freeman as Jason Heyward advanced from first to second. LaRoche stepped on the bag for an apparent double play, but the umpires huddled — with Williams standing a few feet away — and ruled the ball hit the ground before the catch was made.
McLouth was involved in another questionable call in the fifth when he dropped a flyball hit by Andrelton Simmons. Replays indicated McLouth made the catch and was transferring the ball to his glove when it fell to the ground, but Hernandez ruled it was not a catch. The call left the bases loaded, but Jordan escaped by striking out pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit and Heyward.
NOTES: The Nationals also recalled OF Steven Souza Jr. and optioned RHP Blake Barrett to Syracuse. ... The Nationals were charged with three errors, including two throwing miscues by SS Ian Desmond. ... The series ends Sunday when Atlanta RHP Aaron Harang faces LHP Gio Gonzalez.