Instant analysis: Nats 5, White Sox 2

Instant analysis: Nats 5, White Sox 2
April 10, 2013, 10:00 pm
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Game in a nutshell: The umpires -- and plenty of fans -- were late arriving at the ballpark thanks to bad traffic, but don't worry. They got there in time to see the mid-game fireworks display from the Nationals' lineup. Bryce Harper launched his fourth homer of the season to lead off the bottom of the fourth, igniting an offense that would go on score five times between the fourth and sixth innings. Jordan Zimmermann gave up one early run and another late but was otherwise effective and efficient during a seven-inning, quality start. Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano then closed out a comfortable victory, not giving the White Sox a sniff of a comeback they way they did last night.

Hitting highlight: Stymied through the first couple of innings by Gavin Floyd, the Nationals started to make a dent in the Chicago right-hander the second time around the lineup. And by the time they came up for their third at-bats, they had a very good sense of Floyd's repertoire. After going 1-for-10 in innings 1-3, the Nats went 9-for-14 in innings 4-6. Harper got the rally started with a towering home run into the second deck down the right field line, his fourth in eight games this season. Ryan Zimmerman added an RBI single in the fifth. And Danny Espinosa produced two RBI singles in a span of three innings, helping the Nationals create some space between themselves and the White Sox late in the game.

Pitching highlight: Zimmermann labored a bit through the top of the first, giving up an early run, but he settled into a nice groove after that and seemed to get stronger as his evening progressed. By the time the right-hander completed a scoreless seventh, his pitch count sat at a very manageable 90. He'd only been allowed to pitch into the eighth inning one previous time in 84 career starts, though, and Davey Johnson elected not to push the young hurler in this one. Johnson summoned Drew Storen from the bullpen and told Zimmermann to call it a night.

Key stat: Harper became the first player under 21 to record multiple hits in six of his team's first eight games of a season since the Tigers' Al Kaline in 1959.

Up next: Dan Haren struggled mightily in his first start in a Nationals uniform, getting rocked in Cincinnati. The veteran right-hander will get a chance to make another first impression Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. when he faces Dylan Axelrod in the series finale.