But everything else went according to plan for the Nationals, who defeated the Miami Marlins 1-0 on Thursday afternoon at Marlins Park.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer (11-8) pitched seven dominant innings, never allowing a runner as far as third base, and relievers Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched a perfect inning to close out the game.
Storen struck out two. Papelbon, who made his Nationals' debut, struck out one - first baseman Michael Morse, who was officially traded to the Dodgers after the game - to pick up his 18th save of the season
Scherzer laughed when he was asked what it was like to watch Storen, Washington's former closer with 29 saves this year and now the set-up man, and Papelbon, who was acquired from the Phillies on Tuesday.
"Well, it's great," Scherzer said, flashing a big smile. "When you have two shut-down closers at the end, that's what you want. It makes it easier, when you are out of the game, to hand the ball to those guys because you know they can get the job done."
Papelbon is 18-for-18 is save situations this year and could be used again this weekend when the Nationals (54-46) visit the Mets for three crucial games.
Washington leads the second-place Mets in the National League East, but that would change if New York were able to come up with a sweep.
Nationals manager Matt Williams did not comment on the Mets' series - all he would acknowledge is that his team is getting on a plane - and Scherzer downplayed the trip to New York.
"Don't get me wrong, this is an important series," Scherzer said. "But let's not try to get ahead and say this is Sept. 15th when you are living and dying with every pitch. At this stage, you have to try to win all the games. Every series is a big series."
Miami (42-60) was unable to solve Scherzer, who allowed three hits - all singles - and three walks, lowering his ERA to 2.22.
The Marlins put a runner on second in the first, sixth and seventh innings, but could not get a big hit off of Scherzer. With runners in scoring position, the Marlins went 0-for-3 against Scherzer.
Right-hander Dan Haren (7-7), whom the Marlins have been trying to move before Friday's trade deadline because his contract expires at the end of the season, enhanced his value with a strong performance. He allowed just four hits, two walks and one run in six innings.
The one run came on Zimmerman's line-drive homer to left in the second inning. Zimmerman hit a 2-2 pitch on an 82-mph delivery.
It was Zimmerman's 24th homer against the Marlins, the most he has hit against any club.
Among active players, Zimmerman ranks fifth in the number of homers hit against the Marlins. It was Zimmerman's sixth homer of the season, his first since being activated off the disabled list on Tuesday and No. 190 for his career, a Nationals record.
"We didn't get many opportunities today," Williams said. "We got one swing, and it turned out to be enough. Sometimes those are the games you are going to have to win."
Meanwhile, Marlins manager Dan Jennings said the trade rumors that also involved sending pitcher Mat Latos to the Dodgers along with Morse are hard on his players.
"These guys know it's part of the game at this time of the year, but that doesn't make it any easier," Jennings said. "There are uncertainties on the lineup card and who will be available. The players hear the rumors, and that gets a little heavy at times."
Added Morse prior to being notified of the trade: "I don't know what's going on. With what people are saying, I didn't think I would even be eligible to hit. I've been checking my phone. It's been weird. I don't think this is what usually happens."
NOTES: The Marlins-Dodgers trade that was agreed to on Wednesday before falling apart was completed Thursday, with the Atlanta Braves added to the mix. Miami sends RHP Mat Latos and 1B Michael Morse to the Dodgers and a 2016 competitive-balance draft pick to the Braves. The Marlins receive three minor-leaguers from the Dodgers: RHPs Jeff Brigham, Victor Araujo and Kevin Guzman. ... Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (oblique) made a rehab start at Triple-A on Wednesday night, allowing three runs in four innings while striking out five. There is no timetable for his return. ... After his two homers on Wednesday, Nationals RF Bryce Harper, 22, reached 84. Marlins manager Dan Jennings compared Harper to former Yankees great Mickey Mantle, who had 84 homers at the end of the 1954 season, when he was also 22. Mantle finished with 536 home runs