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Nationals again fail to support Zimmermann; Atlanta starter injured in Braves' 3-0 win

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WASHINGTON - For a while, Jordan Zimmermann appeared to be cruising toward his third straight complete game — and his second consecutive loss.

Zimmermann had another hard-luck start Thursday night, allowing two runs and seven hits through seven innings in the Washington Nationals' 3-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Zimmermann lost 1-0 to Lance Lynn and the St. Louis Cardinals last Friday. His pitch count was manageable once again Thursday until he allowed two singles in the seventh. He stranded both runners, however, when he struck out B.J. Upton with a 94 mph fastball on the inside corner on pitch No. 97 — the right-hander's last of the game.

But the Nationals' bats never got going, and Zimmermann's record dropped to 5-4. His ERA is a solid 2.95.

"I got to keep doing my job. Go out there and keep throwing strikes and keep going deep in the game," he said. "I know later on in the season, I'm going to have a bad start someplace down the road and these guys are going to pick me up and score a bunch of runs. That's just the way baseball is."

The Nationals managed three hits, two off Braves starter Gavin Floyd (2-2), who left after breaking a bone in his pitching elbow on the first pitch of the seventh inning.

Floyd, recently recovered from elbow ligament replacement surgery, fractured the olecranon — the bony tip of the forearm bone that sticks out behind the elbow — when he threw a curveball that was fouled by Jayson Werth deep along the third base line.

Floyd will return to Atlanta on Friday to be examined by team doctors. The injury is so rare that the Braves couldn't provide even a guess of a timetable for his return. A similar injury ended the career of Detroit Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya in 2010.

Floyd (2-2) was making his ninth start since recovering from Tommy John surgery, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the two injuries are not related.

"You never want another pitcher to get injured. I don't know what really happened," said Zimmermann, who has also had Tommy John surgery. "Obviously, it was bad enough for him to come out of the game. Hopefully, he'll be all right."

Chris Johnson drove in all three of the Braves' runs, two on a bases-loaded single in the fourth and another on a line drive that smacked reliever Jerry Blevins' left knee in the eighth. Blevins was examined by the Nationals' trainer but remained in the game to face one more batter.

The win moved the Braves within a half-game of the first-place Nationals atop the NL East as the division rivals opened a four-game series. Atlanta has won 23 of its last 30 against Washington.

"Tonight they got us and we'll be ready tomorrow. You can't think any further than that," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "You can't peek around the corner. You can't look back."

NOTES: Nationals OF Bryce Harper took on-field batting practice before the game for the first time since undergoing thumb surgery last month. He's expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week before re-joining the team in mid-July. . Williams said C Wilson Ramos (strained right hamstring) should be ready to re-join the team when eligible to come off of the DL June 26. Ramos will begin a rehab assignment over the weekend or the beginning of next week.

___

Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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