WASHINGTON — Jordan Zimmermann watched Gio Gonzalez pitch a gem for Washington, and just followed his lead.
Zimmermann was terrific in his first career shutout and the Nationals limited the Cincinnati Reds to one hit for the second straight game in a 1-0 victory on Friday night.
Zimmermann (4-1) struck out four and walked one while improving to 3-0 with a 1.36 ERA in five career games against Cincinnati. The right-hander needed only 91 pitches to record his second complete game of the season and No. 3 for his career.
Washington won Thursday night when Gonzalez pitched eight crisp innings in an 8-1 victory. Joey Votto homered for Cincinnati’s only hit in the series opener.
“They were swinging early just like tonight,” Zimmermann said. “I just saw that, and I figured if I did the same, I’d get the same results.”
It was the first time the Reds managed just one hit in consecutive games since July 5-6, 1900, against Brooklyn, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau that the team provided. The Houston Astros from Sept. 14-15, 2008, were the previous major league team with such a streak.
“My guys, if they attack hitters like the last two days, it’s going to be a problem,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “I don’t care, good-hitting team, bad-hitting team.”
Xavier Paul led off the third with a single to center for Cincinnati’s only hit off Zimmermann. The other baserunners came when Todd Frazier reached on an error by first baseman Adam LaRoche in the fifth and Corky Miller walked in the eighth.
“We had quite a few pitches to hit,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We just didn’t find any holes. We’ve just got to keep swinging. We didn’t do a bunch of striking out, we put the ball in play. He was good tonight, but we didn’t find any holes.”
Johnson said Zimmermann earned the right to finish the game.
“Low pitch count, really went after them,” Johnson said. “Never had any qualms at all about letting him (finish).”
Zimmermann admitted that he glanced at the scoreboard to see how many pitches he had thrown. He noticed he was at 60 after six, so he thought he could go on.
“I don’t care about strikeouts. I don’t want to walk anyone,” Zimmermann said.
Homer Bailey (1-2) was nearly as good as Zimmermann, pitching seven crisp innings for the Reds. He allowed one run and six hits, struck out six and walked none.
The Nationals’ only run came in the third. Bryce Harper tripled to right and scored on Jayson Werth’s single to right.
Harper was able to enjoy two excellent pitching performances.
“It was incredible. That’s what we expect from our pitchers. We’re used to that,” Harper said.
Zimmermann improved to 8-0 with a 3.02 ERA in his last 14 regular-season home starts.
The Reds have scored just four runs in the last four games.
“Things go in streaks and sometimes there’s no explaining why,” Baker said. “We went through this last year. There was a streak when you couldn’t buy a run and another streak when you get all the runs you need or want, or even more than you want. Right now we’re in that can’t buy a run phase.”
NOTES: The Reds placed LHP Manny Parra on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left pectoral muscle and activated LHP Sean Marshall from the DL. … LaRoche was hitless in three at-bats. He’s mired in an 0-for-19 slump. … Baker said RHP Johnny Cueto, on the disabled list with a pulled muscle in his back, is not close to returning. … Johnson said he hopes 3B Ryan Zimmerman, on the DL with a hamstring strain, will soon be able to go on a rehab assignment. He could be reactivated next weekend. Rookie Anthony Rendon, who was called up to play third while Zimmerman was out, was on the bench for the second straight games. He’s just 2 for 15. … Cincinnati OF Shin-Soo Choo did not reach base for the first time this season after reaching safely in his first 22 games with the Reds.
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