ATLANTA -- The Nationals' offense tried to do its part to stay in the game during Tuesday night's 13-6 loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park thanks to a pair of early home runs.
Bryce Harper continued his torrid start to begin the season when he swatted a first-pitch curveball from Julio Teheran into the stands in right field to lead off the third inning. It was his third consecutive game with a homer and fourth home run in the past three days.
Harper continues to punish Teheran in their career matchup. It marked his eighth home run in 39 at-bats against Teheran, the most he has against any pitcher.
"Bryce is a great hitter," second baseman Howie Kendrick said. "He's getting even better. It seems like the plate discipline's becoming even more, not that he hasn't known the strike zone before, but it's impressive what he's been doing and what he did last year. I know he got hurt towards the tail end of the year last year, but this year he's coming out strong. Hopefully he can continue to do what he's doing because it helps us out a lot."
Harper also drove in a run in the first inning with a groundout, marking the fifth consecutive game the Nationals have scored in the opening frame. They put together a three-run first, punctuated by a two-run homer from Ryan Zimmerman.
It was Zimmerman's first home run of the season after an unorthodox approach to Spring Training.
"He got started today," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "He's a big key to our offense. When he starts swinging the bat well, he can carry us for awhile."
Zimmerman played in just one Grapefruit League game, instead opting to prepare for the season on the backfields at the team's complex in West Palm Beach with at-bats against Minor Leaguers. He insisted the strategy helped him prepare for the season while keeping his body fresh after injuries limited him during previous years.
Although Zimmerman had a few hard-hit balls during the first few games, he had not had a result like this one to prove it. He opened the season 1-for-12 (.083).
Washington is counting on production from Zimmerman, particularly hitting behind Harper to punish opposing pitchers who elect to walk him.