WASHINGTON -- Coming off a three-game series at St. Louis in which they blew leads and lost Monday and Tuesday before winning by one run Wednesday night, the Washington Nationals were happy to enjoy a one-sided victory Thursday.
Washington exploded for 18 hits and scored in six of eight innings in a 15-1 laugher over the Atlanta Braves.
"Hitting can be contagious. Those pressure packed games can wear on you," said Washington left fielder Clint Robinson, who had two hits and a career-high four RBIs and is hitting .269 in limited time this year. "I kind of scuffled a little bit in St. Louis. It is good to put together good at-bats (as a team)."
Hot-hitting first baseman Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-3 with two doubles and four RBIs, and every Nationals starter either had a hit or drove in a run in the first of a four-game series.
Zimmerman has six hits and seven RBIs in his past two games, with two homers and three doubles. He has 37 RBIs since coming off the disabled list July 28.
"He is a rock in the lineup. He is finally healthy," Robinson said of Zimmerman.
The offense was aided by center fielder Bryce Harper (four walks, four runs), third baseman Yunel Escobar (three hits, three RBIs) and catcher Wilson Ramos (two hits, two RBIs). Harper did not swing at a pitch while taking four walks in as many plate appearances.
"He has been doing it all year. Kudos to him," Robinson said of Harper, who has 104 walks an amazing .464 on-base percentage. "He has confidence in the rest of our lineup."
The Nationals (68-65) pulled within six games of the idle New York Mets in the National League East with their seventh victory in 11 games. Atlanta (54-80) lost its ninth game in a row overall and its 10th straight game on the road.
The Braves used eight pitchers and collected just two hits.
"It's not good," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It leaves a bad taste in your mouth."
Gonzalez was asked if his young pitchers could lose confidence after rough outings.
"They better get used to it," he said. "They have to get over it. We have to keep running them out there. They are our guys, and we want them to be our guys. We have to get outs. They will figure it out sooner or later."
The beneficiary of the offensive outburst was Jordan Zimmermann (12-8), who won his fourth start in a row. He has not lost at home since June 17.
"It takes a lot of pressure off us," Zimmermann, who singled in the third, said of the offensive production. "I would rather have long innings with a lot of runs than quick innings. We have been swinging the bats well recently."
The right-hander from Wisconsin, a free agent after this year, allowed two hits and one run in six innings with five strikeouts and four walks.
"I am making pitches when I need to," Zimmermann said.
Atlanta starter Matt Wisler (5-6) lost his fourth start in a row. He has not won since July 26 at St. Louis.
The Nationals drew eight walks and had 18 hits, including five doubles, while posting their highest run total in a home game this year. Rookie shortstop Trea Turner collected his first major league hit on an infield single in the seventh.
It was the largest margin of victory in the history of the Nationals franchise, from 2005 to present.
The Nationals took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two-run single by Robinson. The 30-year-old rookie picked on the first pitch from Wisler and hit a liner to left-center to drive in Zimmerman and Harper.
The Braves cut the lead to 2-1 on an RBI groundout by third baseman Hector Olivera.
Washington broke the game open with five runs in the second.
Ramos had an RBI double, Harper walked with the bases loaded, Zimmerman had a sacrifice fly, and Escobar added a two-run single to make it 7-1.
Wisler wound up allowing seven runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings.
"It's not really acceptable," Gonzalez said of the performance by his staff. "It hurts."
Zimmerman hit a two-run single and Robinson had an RBI single in the third to make it 10-1.
Lefty Ross Detwiler, who pitched with the Nationals from 2007-14, came on in the fifth for the Braves and gave up a leadoff walk to Harper -- his fourth of the game. Zimmerman then followed with an RBI double to make it 11-1. Ramos' sacrifice fly built the margin to 12-1.
Washington scored a run in the sixth to make it 13-1 as Robinson had a sacrifice fly. Escobar had an RBI single to build the margin to 14-1. Danny Espinosa, who entered the game to play left, hit a solo homer in the eighth for a 15-1 lead, his second hit in two at-bats.
Every Washington starter had at least one hit in the first three innings except for Harper, who also drew walks in the first, second and third.
NOTES: Atlanta RHP Julio Teheran (9-7, 4.62 ERA) will start Friday against Washington RHP Tanner Roark (4-4, 4.54), who will take the spot of RHP Stephen Strasburg. After being pulled after four innings on Sunday, Strasburg complained of back discomfort. Washington manager Matt Williams said he hopes to have Strasburg make a start against the New York Mets during the Sept. 7-9 series ... Washington called up RHP A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse and activated INF/OF Tyler Moore off the disabled list. ... Braves third base coach Bo Porter held the same position for Washington when the Nationals won the NL East title in 2012.