June 3, 2012; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Steve Lombardozzi (1) is congratulated by center fielder Bryce Harper (34) after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
• Pitcher Of the Month + Rookie of the Month = Early Lead: Just before the start of today's game, this afternoon's starter, Nats' lefty Gio Gonzalez, was named the National League's Pitcher of the Month for the month of May. The 26-year-old left-hander is the second-straight Nationals' pitcher to receive the honor after Stephen Strasburg took home the award for the first month of the season. Gonzalez was (5-0) in five starts in May, including one last week in Atlanta in which he beat the Nats' NL East rivals. The left-hander faced the Braves for the second time in seven days this afternoon in Nationals Park. Gonzalez gave up a leadoff single by Atlanta's center fielder and leadoff man Michael Bourn, but retired the next three Braves' batters in order in what ended up being a 14-pitch top of the first in the nation's capital.
Atlanta's starter, Tommy Hanson, didn't get off to quite as strong a start, surrendering back-to-back jacks to the first two hitters he faced in the home half of the frame. Steve Lombardozzi lined a 2-1 fastball to right and off the back wall of the Nationals' bullpen and Harper took the next pitch from Hanson even further to right, launchind one into the second deck above the right field bullpen to make it 2-0 Nationals early. Lombardozzi's 1st MLB HR. Harper's 5th. And oh yeah, Harper was named the Rookie of the Month for the month of May just moments after Gonzalez was named POTM.
• Bourn Will Be A FA, You Know?: Backup Braves' backstop David Ross lined a single to center with two down in the top of the second, and slow-footed it around to third on a two-out double by Atlanta's rookie shortstrop Andrelton Simmons, but Gio Gonzalez struck the opposing pitcher out to end his second scoreless frame. The 20-pitch inning had the Nats' lefty up to 32 pitches after two innings pitched. Nats' second baseman Danny Espinosa bunted his way on with one out in the Nationals' second, and went first-to-third™ on a hit-and-run single to right by Jesus Flores, but a sac bunt, fly to center, and a diving catch by Michael Bourn later both runners were stranded as Tommy Hanson completed a nine-pitch second on the mound.
• Danny's Hitting: Martin Prado singled to center on a 1-0 fastball from Gonzalez with one down in the Braves' third, then scored one out later on an RBI double to center by Dan Uggla that cut the Nationals' lead in half. 2-1 Nats after Gio Gonzalez's 18-pitch third. Adam LaRoche reached on a two-out error by Dan Uggla that saw the stocky Braves' infielder throw it by Freddie Freeman for an E:4 and a two-out runner on, but Michael Morse K'd looking to end a 15-pitch third. 38 pitches total for Hanson. Gio Gonalez started the top of the fourth at 50 pitches and needed 16 to get through the Braves' half of the inning. Danny Espinosa doubled to right and off the base of the base of the wall for his 9th double of 2012 with one down in the fourth, but he was stranded at second two outs later after both Jesus Flores and Gio Gonzalez struck out to end the inning. Still 2-1 Nationals.
• Pitcher of the Month... Of May: Michael Bourn slid headfirst into first on a grounder to Adam LaRoche and beat the covering pitcher to the bag for a leadoff single in the top of the fifth. One out later, a wild pitch with Freddie Freeman up allowed Bourn to take second, but Gonzalez struck the Braves' first baseman out for out no.2 of the top of the 5th. The Nats' lefty walked Dan Uggla intentionally, then unintentionally threw his second wild pitch of the inning, allowing both runners to move into scoring position in front of Matt Diaz, who walked to load the bases. Jason Heyward then came through with a two-run line drive single to left to make it 3-2 Braves and end Gio's day after 4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K's, 91 pitches, 56 strikes, 2 WP... Two runners of Gio's were still on base, but after walking the backup catcher to reload the bases, Craig Stammen popped Andrelton Simmons up to the infield to end the top of the 5th. 3-2 Braves.
• Run, Harper, Run: Bryce Harper tried to turn a one-out double into his fifth triple of 2012 (after collecting his 5th HR earlier today), but he was thrown out on a relay from right-fielder Jason Heyward to Andrelton Simmons and on to Martin Prado who applied the tag at third to complete a 9-6-5 putout. Two pitches later, Ryan Zimmerman grounded out and the Braves' right-handed starter was through an eight-pitch inning with the one-run lead in tact. Craig Stammen needed just seven pitches to retire the Braves in order in the top of the sixth, and Tommy Hanson needed just nine to set the Nats' bats down in order in the bottom of the frame.
• Stammen Keeps It Close: An 0-2 curve got Matt Diaz swinging for the final out of a quick 10-pitch top of the seventh which saw Stammen retire seven-straight. Tommy Hanson started the seventh at 69 pitches total, and 11 pitches later he had two outs after Matt Diaz caught a Jesus Flores fly at the top of the wall in right. Pinch hitter Rick Ankiel K'd swinging and the Braves' right-hander was through seven innings on 84 pitches. New Nats' lefty Mike Gonzalez (who was added to the roster this afternoon) gave up a one-out single to left by David Ross, but got a 4-6-3 DP out of Andrelton Simmons to complete his first scoreless frame in a curly-W cap. Braves' lefty Eric O'Flaherty walked Lombardozzi and Harper to start the Nats' eighth, but got a 4-6-3 DP from Ryan Zimmerman and an inning-ending fly to left from Adam LaRoche to make the 3-2 lead hold up through eight.
• No Rally This Time: Nats' lefty Sean Burnett had a runner reach with two down when Ryan Zimmerman couldn't get a hold of a weak chopper toward third off Martin Prado's bat. Burnett got Freddie Freeman swinging in the next at bat, however, and completed a 17-pitch inning. With the Braves up 3-2 after eight and a half, ATL closer Craig Kimbrel came out for the ninth to face Michael Morse, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa. Morse worked the count full and K'd swinging at a pitch in the dirt,. Desmond K'd swinging through a 98 mph 1-2 four-seamer. Danny Espinosa? K'd swinging too. Ballgame. Braves win, 3-2 final. One more to play when it's rescheduled, for now it's a split.
• Miss The Game? The D.C. Faithful Were Watching...
• Doghouse's Post Game WPA Graph: "COMING SOON!!"
Nationals now 30-22.