WASHINGTON -- Wilson Ramos talked himself into the lineup. His calm approach at the plate took care of the rest.
Desmond's solo shot tied the score in the second inning and Ramos' two-run double in the third put the Nationals ahead for good. The catcher drove in two more with a bases-loaded single in the fifth off starter Zack Wheeler (1-4) for a 5-1 lead.
"His heart rate doesn't increase," Washington manager Matt Williams said of his cleanup hitter. "That's key for anybody in the middle of the lineup driving in runs. ... It's no different at-bat just because there are guys out there."
There was some debate about putting Ramos in the lineup for a third straight game, something he had not done since returning to action May 9. He missed more than a month with a hand injury and played only 78 games last year after multiple stints on the disabled list.
"There was a conversation (Saturday) night about how he felt," Williams said "He was adamant about playing today because he felt that it was coming along."
Though he was hitless in Saturday's 5-2 loss, Ramos sensed better days were ahead. On Sunday, he produced his first multihit game of the season.
"Yesterday I was feeling good. I hit the ball well, "Ramos said. "I talked to (Williams) and said I want to play (Sunday). Every time I play games straight I feel better and better and better."
Zimmermann (3-1) allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings for his first win in three starts. It came hours after Washington put left-hander Gio Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder.
Soriano worked the ninth for his 10th save.
One day after New York snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Nationals, a scuffling Wheeler gave up five runs -- three earned -- and six hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked two.
"It's been a bunch of bad starts in a row here," said Wheeler, who has not won since April 14, "so I need to hurry up and turn it around and get back on the right track."
Results aside, manager Terry Collins liked what he saw from the 23-year-old righty.
"It's all about locating his pitching. But I tell you, I thought he had really good stuff today, he just made a couple mistakes and they got some big hits," Collins said.
The Mets scored twice against Zimmermann in the sixth, but the rally ended when Centeno was thrown out at second base after his run-scoring hit.
All the New York momentum was stopped when the Nationals went to their bullpen. The Mets did not get a hit over the final three innings.
"We feel very confident," Clippard said. "We're kind of in that mode right now of just, get us the lead and we'll do our thing."
Zimmermann, a .385 hitter this season, singled in the fifth and later scored on Ramos' base hit.
Ramos doubled in two runs in the third after shortstop Ruben Tejada's fielding error with a runner on and two outs kept the inning going.
Desmond has homered in back-to-back games.
Kevin Frandsen's RBI groundout in the eighth added an insurance run for Washington.
Gonzalez had an MRI. Results showed inflammation but no structural damage, Williams said. ... The Nationals recalled RHP Ryan Mattheus from Triple-A Syracuse to replace Gonzalez on the roster. ... New York RHP Rafael Montero (0-1) makes his second major league start Tuesday night against RHP Josh Beckett (1-2) and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. ... Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-3) faces Cincinnati RHP Mike Leake (2-3) in the opener of a three-game series Monday night.