For years Ryan Zimmerman never needed to overcome a baseball season. He drew comparisons to Brooks Robinson clobbered around 25 homers a year and earned a $100 million contract. He had nothing to endure. He existed easily in a hard game until this season. His throwing mechanics broke down his bat lost power and his confidence eroded. He wondered at one point if he may need to switch to first base. “A lot of bad things creep in there” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman discovered this season he can persevere. Wednesday night he lifted the Washington Nationals to a 3-0 victory over the New York Mets. As Dan Haren rebounded from an abysmal stretch Zimmerman blasted a solo homer and made two sparkling plays at third base. Like the team he represents Zimmerman’s underwhelming season has roared suddenly to life.

On Sept. 1 Zimmerman had hit 15 home runs. He insisted a hot stretch would surface and his power would return. In the past nine games he has smashed seven homers bringing his total to 22. His defense has turned from liability to solid even if Manager Davey Johnson inserted call-up Zach Walters into the game in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement as Rafael Soriano collected his 41st save.

Haren the Nationals’ embattled right-hander allowed one hit — a hard single to left from Juan Lagares — and struck out eight batters over six scoreless innings and yet Johnson lifted him for a pinch hitter after he had only thrown 86 pitches. Haren outdueled promising right-hander Zach Wheeler for most of the night and the Nationals opened up the game only when Anthony Rendon cracked a two-run double in the eighth.

The Nationals greeted Wheeler with an immediate threat. Denard Span flared a single to left field which extended his season-salvaging hitting streak to 22 games. With one out Jayson Werth smashed a laser over left fielder Eric Young’s head for his third double of the series to go with two homers.

Werth had momentarily raised his average to .330. On SNY’s broadcast former Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez said he had never seen a player hit the ball harder over the course of a series than Werth the past three days at Citi Field.

“He’s not swinging hard but he’s hitting rockets” Johnson said before the game. “He’s in a real good place.”