When Zimmerman's healthy, his numbers look MVP-like

Zimmerman: 'It's not over till it's over'

Ryan Zimmerman joins SportsCenter after carrying the Nationals past the Cardinals and discusses wht Washington has to do to catch the Mets.

With the Washington Nationals in a must-win position and their best hitter out with an injury, Ryan Zimmerman brought his best to Busch Stadium.

Zimmerman’s performance in Wednesday’s win was a first -- the first time in his career he had three go-ahead hits in a game. It’s the first time a player has had such a game since the Nationals moved to Washington D.C. in 2005.

On SportsCenter after the game, Zimmerman spoke of how good health was the biggest key to his success, and the numbers bear that out. Since returning from the disabled list (he missed seven weeks with a foot injury), he has a slashline of .288/.362/.661 with 33 RBIs in 35 games. His 33 RBIs are the most in the National League since July 28.

Prior to that, he was hitting .209 with a .611 OPS, five home runs and 34 RBIs in 56 games.

Zimmerman went 7-for-14 with four home runs and eight RBIs in this series. The rest of the Nationals hit .226 with one home run and five RBIs.

Mr. 200

Zimmerman hit his 200th career home run, making him the fifth player in franchise history to reach that mark. The all-time leader is Vladimir Guerrero with 234, followed by Andre Dawson (225), Gary Carter (220) and Tim Wallach (204).

Inside the at-bat

With a man on second in the eighth inning, the St. Louis Cardinals had the option to walk Zimmerman and instead pitch to Yunel Escobar, but decided to go after Zimmerman.

Cardinals reliever Jonathan Broxton had retired Zimmerman in each of their five previous meetings. But on a 2-2 pitch, Broxton tried to hit the outside edge with a slider and Zimmerman rammed it down the right-field line for the final go-ahead hit of the game.

Zimmerman had five two-strike hits in the series, including all three of his hits on Wednesday. He was 0-for-17 in two-strike situations in his last 11 games prior to the Cardinals series.

Elias Sports Bureau: Did you know?

Zimmerman was only the third player in Nationals/Expos history with three go-ahead hits in a game. The others were Tim Wallach on Sept. 8, 1988, against the Pirates (three go-ahead hits) and Vladimir Guerrero on April 19, 2000, against the Cubs (three).