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Monday May 4th, 2015 10:08AM

Zimmerman, LaRoche homer as Nats beat Braves 8-2

By The Associated Press
VIERA, Fla. -- Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche homered to lead the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves 8-2 in a split-squad game Saturday.

Ross Detwiler, the leading candidate for the No. 5 spot in Washington's rotation, gave up one run and six hits in two-plus innings. The left-hander, who has relied mainly on his two-seam and four-seam fastball throughout his career, was pleased with the location on his curveball, even if none of the Braves hitters swung.

Being able to mix up his pitches more will be a plus for Detwiler once the season starts, but right now he is trying to gain more confidence in his off-speed stuff and get into more of a rhythm throwing those pitches in big moments.

"You don't really attack hitters the same way you would during the season, necessarily," Detwiler said. "I actually got an out on a changeup. I actually went back-to-back changeups. That's something I don't think I've ever done."

Taylor Jordan, another fifth-starter candidate, followed with three strong innings and struck out six.

"My overall manner out there was not nervous at all, compared to the other two games where my legs were literally shaking," Jordan said. "Like, I could see my leg shaking. It was bad. That's good. It means I'm starting to calm down a little bit."

Jordan was happy with his day, especially the fact that he wasn't nervous. In his two previous outings, he said he could literally see his legs shaking.

Zimmerman had two hits, including a two-run homer.

Andrelton Simmons had two hits for Atlanta.

START TIMING: Atlanta: David Hale didn't feel like he had his usual zip on the ball, but attributed that to it being only his second spring training start. He went two innings, allowing two runs on four hits with one strikeout.

"I've just got to improve on my pitches, improve on my command, just do the best I can and leave all the decisions for everybody else," Hale said when asked what he hopes to accomplish this spring.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez seemed pleased with the way Hale got through the day without his best stuff, and despite a couple of defensive plays that weren't made.

"Sometimes, you've got to watch them go through adversity to see how they handle it, and I thought he did fine," Gonzalez said.

TRAINER'S ROOM: National starter Doug Fister didn't seem worried about the inflammation in his right elbow, which caused him to miss Friday's scheduled start.

"It's typical inflammation, so we're just kind of treating it day by day," he said. "That's pretty much it."

Manager Matt Williams said it was too early to tell whether Fister will be able to make his next start, or how many spring starts the right-hander will miss.

"That's up in the air, so we just don't know," the Nationals manager said. "(He will) be out a couple of days. (We'll) get him to throw, see how it feels, and determine at that point whether he wants to do a bullpen, needs to do a bullpen and then determine when his next turn would be. But right now, we just don't know."

Washington right-hander Ross Ohlendorf, who left Thursday's start because of back spasms is listed as day-to-day. Williams said it's likely Ohlendorf will throw a bullpen session to see how he feels before he returns to game action.

ESPINOSA SHINES: Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa had a double, stole a base and scored from second on an infield hit. Williams said he was especially pleased to see Espinosa's aggressiveness on the bases.

"It's a little bit of our DNA," Williams said. "What we want to do is apply pressure."
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