for this game

Redding, Zimmerman come through as Nationals blank Phils

Apr 3, 2008 - 4:51 AM By Larry Dougherty P A SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Ryan Zimmerman provided all the offense with a solo home run and Tim Redding outdueled Cole Hamels to lead the Washington Nationals to a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday on a chilly night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Nationals improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2003, when they still resided in Montreal as the Expos. It also is the first time a Washington-based team opened a season with three consecutive victories since the 1951 Nationals of the American League began the campaign with four straight.

Redding, one of the feel-good stories for Washington last season after making his way onto the roster in July, pitched seven-plus strong innings, allowing just one hit - a two-out single in the second inning by Pedro Feliz.

Healthy for the first time since 2003, Redding retired 14 consecutive batters starting with two outs in the second inning and did not allow a runner to reach second base.

"Tremendous," Nationals manager Manny Acta said of Redding's performance. "That was a great outing in such tough conditions with this weather. He had a good fastball, kept it down on the knees and was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes."

Redding chose to credit his teammates for the win.

"To say I threw well, I have to tip my hat to the guys in the field behind me," he said. "Zimmy (Zimmerman) made some outstanding plays. AK (Austin Kearns) tracking one down in the gap off Chase (Utley) late in the game. Nick (Johnson) picking some balls over there at first base. It was a great defensive day. I do not want to take any credit whatsoever."

Zimmerman's play on a hard-hit ball by Pat Burrell with one on in the seventh clearly was the defensive play of the night. The third baseman turned an extra-base hit into an inning-ending double play.

"He hit the ball well," Zimmerman said. "It was one of those where you could have caught it on the line or let it short-hop, so I went for the short hop and, luckily, it kind of bounced out right in front of me."

Hamels was equally impressive in first outing of the season.

The lefthander allowed just five hits in eight innings while striking out six. After getting out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the first, Hamels retired nine straight during one stretch before allowing a two-out single in the fifth by Cristian Guzman.

"If I can keep (pitching like) that, our team will definitely win a lot of ballgames this year," Hamels said. "It just was unfortunate we had only one hit."

Jimmy Rollins, who saw his 11-game hitting streak dating to last season come to an end, felt the Phillies wasted Hamels' outing.

"Yeah, we definitely did. That's the only thing that frustrates me about tonight," Rollins said. "When you get a performance from Cole where he only gives up one run and you can't find a way to score, it's definitely a wasted effort."

Zimmerman, who hit a walk-off homer in the Nationals' season opener, saw his blast in this one barely clear the 330-foot sign in the right field corner.

"I do not think about it. That is the best way to explain it," Zimmerman said of his ability to hit in the clutch. "I just go out there and try and have quality at-bats and try and hit the ball hard. I don't ever try and hit home runs or doubles. I just try to put together quality at-bats, make solid contact. If good things happen, they happen."

"That is why he is the face of our franchise and that is why he hits third over here," Acta said. "That is just the beginning. He has got a great career ahead of him."

The Nationals threatened in the eighth as Zimmerman lined a two-out single to left and moved to second on an error by second baseman Utley on a grounder by Johnson. Kearns then popped to short to end the inning.

Redding walked Geoff Jenkins to lead off the eighth before yielding to Luis Ayala. The reliever retired the next three batters on grounders to end the inning.

Jon Rauch, who gave up a two-run, game-tying home run to Jimmy Rollins on Monday, retired the side in order in the ninth for his first save of the season.

"This definitely gives us confidence compared to last year," Zimmerman said, referring to Washington's 1-8 start in 2007. "It took such an uphill battle to get back to where we want to be. Getting out of the gates quick definitely helps us, helps our confidence and just makes everyone a little more relaxed."

Wednesday's contest was just the third 1-0 game in the five-year history of hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park and first since July 9, 2005.