WASHINGTON -- Now the Washington Nationals might get more of a test.
Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann worked around eight hits over six innings, Ryan Zimmerman's three hits included a two-run double and the Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 6-1 Thursday to wrap up a lopsided season-opening three-game sweep.
Jayson Werth padded the margin with a three-run homer in the seventh, a sign that his broken left wrist of last season is gaining strength. Bryce Harper had another eventful day, collecting two hits for the third consecutive game, taking an elbow to the face while scoring a run, and later getting thrown out trying to steal third with cleanup hitter Zimmerman at the plate.
Coming off a majors-best 98-win season in 2012, the Nationals outscored the payroll-slashing, talent-trading Marlins by a total of 11-1 in the series. At least Miami finally scored, ending a 19-inning run drought in the second Thursday on Justin Ruggiano's first-pitch homer to right off Zimmermann (1-0).
Washington opens a three-game series at the defending NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds on Friday.
Zimmermann followed sterling outings by Nationals starters Stephen Strasburg (seven scoreless innings Monday) and Gio Gonzalez (six scoreless innings Wednesday) by giving up only one run. But the Marlins got at least one runner on in every inning against Zimmermann, who nonetheless kept getting out of trouble.
The St. Louis Cardinals began the 1943 season with 26 scoreless innings against Cincinnati, the post-1900 major league record, according to STATS LLC.
The Marlins have a payroll that's under $45 million this season after trading away several top players, including Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez. And yet this isn't exactly a new problem. Last season, they batted .244 -- the worst average in franchise history -- and scored 3.8 runs per game -- their fewest since a 3.6 average in 1993, their expansion year.
Miami's pitching was solid this series, and Wade LeBlanc (0-1) limited Washington to three runs -- two earned -- and five hits in five innings. But Werth drove a 93 mph pitch from reliever Mike Dunn beyond the visiting bullpen in left to double the Nationals' output.
With the temperature in the 40s on a cloudy afternoon, LeBlanc gave up one-out singles to Werth and Harper ahead of Zimmerman's double off the wall in centre in the first inning. Harper collided with catcher Rob Brantly while scoring and momentarily grabbed his chin but didn't appear seriously hurt.
In the third, Denard Span led off with a single and reached second on an error charged to LeBlanc. Harper then delivered an RBI single to make it 3-1, taking second on right fielder Giancarlo Stanton's error. Moments later, Brantly threw out Harper at third.
NOTES: During Washington-area MASN's TV coverage of the game, viewers were shown side-by-side video of the swings of Harper and a certain guy who went by the name Babe Ruth. ... RHP Chris Young agreed to a minor league contract with the Nationals, giving the team some added depth in case they need an extra starting pitcher during the season. Young originally signed a minor league deal with the Nationals in February and made four spring training starts before being released on March 26. He will report to the team's spring training site in Florida for some bullpen sessions before joining Triple-A Syracuse. ... The Marlins plan to put 1B Casey Kotchman on the 15-day DL on Friday with a strained left hamstring. Manager Mike Redmond says he'll have "a little bit of a tryout over at first base." Gregg Dobbs played there Thursday and juggled a grounder from Washington's first batter, Span, but gathered himself and stepped on the bag. ... The Marlins start a series at the Mets on Friday, with RHP Alex Sanabia starting for Miami, his first appearance in the majors since Sept. 24, 2011. ... RHP Dan Haren will make his Nationals debut Friday against the Reds after coming over as a free agent from the Angels.