WASHINGTON (AP) As a former Gold Glove third baseman, Ryan Zimmerman knows full well that when there are runners on first and second, a batter planning to sacrifice them over usually bunts toward third.
So the new everyday first baseman for the Washington Nationals could only shrug his shoulders and try to contain a grin when he noted that New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom bunted toward first in that very situation Wednesday night. Showing that he's adapting well to his position switch, Zimmerman made a diving, headfirst grab when deGrom popped up.
''I guess,'' Zimmerman said, ''they were trying to pick on me.''
He made a pair of nifty defensive plays to back Jordan Zimmermann's six-inning, one-run outing, and provided all the offense Washington would need with a two-run homer off deGrom, leading the Nationals past the Mets 2-1.
After three consecutive singles by the Mets in the second, Zimmerman helped prevent further scoring by hauling in No. 8 hitter deGrom's bunt attempt.
Moments later, with the bases loaded and the count full, Zimmermann struck out Curtis Granderson looking at an 86 mph slider that Granderson was so sure was high that he chucked his bat away and began heading to first base.
When the call came from umpire Mike Everitt, Granderson leaned in for a brief chat.
''I thought it was up,'' Granderson said. ''He said otherwise.''
There was more good defense from Zimmerman in the eighth, when he dived to his right to glove a smash by Granderson and threw him out.
That helped Blake Treinen get through his one inning of relief, after Craig Stammen pitched the seventh. Closer Drew Storen had a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save.
''I still have a lot to learn and a ways to go, but I think I feel pretty comfortable over there,'' Zimmerman said. ''I feel like I can do a lot of things over there that I can do at third. Obviously, I just don't have to make the throws. I'm going to try to get as many balls as I can over there.''
Zimmermann (1-0), who threw a no-hitter to close the 2014 regular season, made it until the fifth batter this time before giving up a single to Daniel Murphy, who scored on Travis d'Arnaud's single.
New York got five hits off the righty, who struck out four in a game that started 56 minutes late because of the threat of rain. Zimmermann outpitched reigning NL Rookie of the Year deGrom (0-1), who served up Zimmerman's shot to left off an inside 94 mph fastball in the first.
''I was trying to show `in' there, and then I was going to go back away,'' deGrom said. ''I felt like I threw it where I wanted to, and he just put a good swing on it.''
Nationals manager Matt Williams said he went into the game planning to use Treinen as his eighth-inning setup man. ''It's something new for me. I haven't really had too many opportunities to pitch out of the `pen in a close game,'' Treinen said. ''I loved it. It was a blast.''
Mets: For now, RHP Jeurys Familia will be the primary closer while RHP Jenrry Mejia (elbow) is on the 15-day DL.
Nationals: LF Jayson Werth is scheduled to play seven innings at Class-A Potomac on Thursday. Werth (right shoulder surgery) is eligible to come off the DL on Saturday, but Williams said ''that date would probably be stretching it.'' ... CF Denard Span (core muscle surgery) heads to Florida for simulated games.
Mets: In Thursday's series finale, RHP Matt Harvey will pitch in a major league game for the first time since August 2013, returning from Tommy John surgery.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg starts Game 3 against the Mets; he got the nod on opening day the past three seasons.
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