LOS ANGELES -- About an hour before Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 24 games on Wednesday, Dodgers outfielder Juan Pierre said he believes 2009 will be a breakout year for Zimmerman.
"He is one of the great young talents in the league," Pierre said. "He has [three full] years under his belt now. I think he is ready to take it to the next level. He gets overshadowed because of David Wright, who plays with the Mets. The Nationals haven't started winning yet as a team, but Zimmerman is just as good as any three of the top third basemen."
Zimmerman showed Pierre and the Dodgers how good he is by extended his hitting streak in a 10-3 loss to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Zimmerman's streak is the longest in baseball this season.
In the top of first inning, facing Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, Zimmerman singled to left field on a 3-2 pitch to advance Cristian Guzman to third base. The streak is the longest in Nationals history.
"That's pretty amazing, I guess," Pierre said. "I never had one that long. That's almost a month's worth of hitting. It just go to show how consistent he has been over this time. Everybody knows he is a great young player. He's looking for a breakout year."
Zimmerman later hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning off Kershaw to tie the score at 1. Zimmerman ended up going 1-for-3.
During the streak, Zimmerman is 36-for-102 (.353). For the season, he is hitting .333 with five home runs and 20 RBIs.
Zimmerman declined to talk about the streak after the loss. Instead, he gave support to the Nationals' bullpen, which has struggled all season.
"I know they are trying hard and working hard," Zimmerman said. "It's tough because I think they have talent."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.