WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite losing three games to the New York Yankees in his team's highest-profile test this season, Davey Johnson felt good about the Washington Nationals' performance.
One thing, however, was nagging him after the Yankees completed their sweep with a 4-1 win Sunday — the offensive struggles of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
"What really concerns me is we've got to get Zim going," Johnson said. "We've got to get Zim to a happy place."
Zimmerman went 0 for 4 in the game and 1 for 13 in the series to drop his average to .229. His only hit came in his first at-bat on Friday and he is now 4 for 33 in his last eight games.
"Obviously I'm not doing as well as I want to," Zimmerman said. "Anytime you're not getting hits like that something has to change. I've got to keep working hard and doing the things I've done my whole career and it'll turn around."
Zimmerman missed 13 games earlier this year with a shoulder injury, but he said he's not feeling any lingering problems. Instead, he said he'll keep grinding until things turn around.
"You have a couple good games in a row and you get going, it snowballs and you get back on track," Zimmerman said.
The Nationals remain in first place in the NL East, four games clear of the Atlanta Braves, despite hitting a buzz saw in New York. Washington was swept for the third time this season — the first at home — and scored only six runs in the three games.
The Yankees won their ninth straight and maintained a 1½ game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. The series drew the eighth, ninth and 10th largest crowds in the 4½-year history of Nationals Park, with fans in pinstripes trying to outshout the locals in red.
"That's the one good thing that came this weekend," said Adam LaRoche, who homered and doubled. "That's about as close to a playoff atmosphere as you're going to get. ... You get the place packed, people going crazy and obviously it draws a lot of media attention. It'll be good for these guys, especially the young guys, to get used to that."
Ivan Nova (9-2) shut down the Nationals, giving up seven hits and a run in an efficient, mostly trouble-free 7 2-3 innings, keeping him unbeaten in his last 15 road starts — a streak that's been going for more than a year.