Dan Uggla

Washington Nationals’ Dan Uggla, left, scores against the Atlanta Braves on a three-run single by pitcher Jordan Zimmermann during the fourth inning inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

Before the season, the thought of winning four out of seven games in a week may not have seemed like cause for much celebration for the Washington Nationals. But as awful as the first three weeks have been for this Nationals team, success in two series against divisional opponents may have been the jump-start they needed.

April 27-29: Nats Take Two of Three in Atlanta
The Nationals carried a five-game losing streak into a three-game series against the Braves, a slump that was extended to six games with an 8-4 loss in Game One on April 27. The Nationals committed four errors, including two by starter Doug Fister (1-1) on errant pickoff attempts. Ian Desmond committed his ninth error in 20 games. The losing streak was Washington’s longest since they dropped six straight from July 19 to July 24, 2013. The game got a little testy following a hard slide into third base by Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons in the fifth inning. Simmons was ruled safe when he knocked the ball out of Washington third baseman Yunel Escobar’s glove, and Escobar left the game with a cut on his left hand. After the customary warning to both benches, Washington’s Rafael Martin hit Simmons with a pitch to open the bottom of the seventh inning. Surely this will not be the last time this season that a game between the two rivals will spark fireworks.

Game Two
of the series on April 28 offered one of the most improbable outcomes in recent memory. After scratching Max Scherzer from his scheduled start with a sprained right thumb, the Nationals recalled prospect A.J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse for a spot start. Cole was shelled, giving up nine hits, one walk and nine runs, including four earned, in only two innings as the Braves built a 9-2 lead. As the Nationals slowly clawed their way back into the game, former Brave Dan Uggla became the catalyst of what would become the greatest comeback in team history. Uggla drove in five runs, including three on a homer in the ninth inning, to help Washington to beat the Atlanta Braves 13-12 and snap a six-game losing streak. Washington’s previous biggest comeback came on June 17, 2006, when it trailed the New York Yankees by seven runs.

The rubber match of Game Three on April 29 saw Washington keep up the offensive onslaught as Jordan Zimmermann won for the first time in four starts. Zimmerman also helped his own cause with a bases-clearing single to notch three RBIs in a 13-4 shellacking of Atlanta. On the mound, Zimmermann (2-2) gave up eight hits, one walk and four runs with seven strikeouts in seven innings. Denard Span again ignited the offense, adding a three-run homerun in the ninth inning to contribute to the 15-hit onslaught.

April 30-May 3: Nationals Stay Hot Against First-Place Mets
In Game One of a four-game road series against the red-hot, first-place New York Mets on April 30, Stephen Strasburg overcame a rocky start to win his second game of the season, 8-2. The Nats became the first team to defeat the Mets at home this season. Bryce Harper hit two doubles, including a three-run drive in the ninth inning, and Strasburg gave up two runs and six hits in 5-1/3 innings, striking out seven.

Game Two on May 1 saw Nationals killer Matt Harvey again befuddle Washington’s offense in a 4-0 shutout. Harvey out-dueled Nationals starter Scherzer (1-2), who fanned 10 batters of his own and gave up just one run and five hits across seven innings. Despite a 1.26 ERA, Scherzer has only one win in five starts with his new team.

Gio Gonzalez (2-2) continued his mastery of the Mets at CitiField in Game Three on May 2, another pitchers’ duel which saw Washington hold on to a 1-0 win. Over seven shutout innings, Gonzalez gave up only six hits and two walks, and the bullpen was effective in relief.  Michael Taylor drove in the lone run of the ballgame with an infield single in the second, as Gonzalez improved to 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA in nine starts at Citi Field.

Game Four on May 3 became yet another pitchers’ duel, this time between Nationals starter Doug Fister and the Mets’ Dillion Gee, and produced the same result: a 1-0 victory for the Nationals. The victory marked Washington’s fifth win in six ballgames. This time, the winning RBI was delivered by Ryan Zimmerman, a bloop single early in the first inning which plated Jayson Werth. Fister (2-1) allowed only five hits and surrendered no walks while improving to 5-0 with a 0.82 ERA in five starts against the Mets, who have dropped five of six. Drew Storen pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save.

Next: Washington will host the Miami Marlins from May 4 to 6, and then hosts the Atlanta Braves from May 8 to 10.