Washington Nationals' Gio Gonzalez Comes Through With Complete Game When Nats Needed It.

Aug 8, 2012; Houston, TX; USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) pitches against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

• NatGio: Gio Gonzalez threw five scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins on August 3rd in the nation's capital in the Washington Nationals' left-hander's 22nd start of 2012. The Nationals led 1-0 after five. With two down in the sixth, however, the Nationals' NL East rivals rallied, attacking early in the count and hitting four-straight singles, each on the first or second pitch from Gonzalez to drive in three runs and give the Marlins a 3-1 lead. "I thought Gio threw the ball good," Nats' manager Davey Johnson told reporters after the game, which ended up a 5-2 loss to the Fish, "[Gonzalez] just had that one inning where everybody kind of took him the other way, but I thought he pitched good. I thought he pitched good enough to win."

"I liked the way he pitched the game, we just couldn't score him any runs," Johnson concluded. Gonzalez, the former A's starter acquired in a 4-for-2 deal with Oakland this winter, entered his 23rd start of the year tonight in Houston with a (13-6) record, a 3.34 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 52 walks (3.55 BB/9) and 147 K's (10.02 K/9) in 132.0 IP. Gonzalez was reunited with another former Athletic when one-time teammate and catcher Kurt Suzuki, acquired by Washington from Oakland in a post-deadline deal last week, was behind the plate working with Gio for the first time since September 23, 2011. The two teamed up for the 75th time in their respective careers in the third game of three for the Nats in Houston. Before tonight's game with the Astros in Minute Maid Park, Gonzalez had a 3.93 ERA, 212 BB (4.65 BB/9), 386 K's (8.47 K/9) and a .242/.337/.381 line against in 410.0 IP working with Suzuki as his catcher.

Gonzalez threw 117 pitches in a complete game win Wednesday night (adding his 1st MLB HR on a two-run blast that was the difference), walking two, striking out seven and allowing three runs on nine hits...

On a night when Nats' manager Davey Johnson was hoping to save his relievers from having to do any significant work, with both Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen reportedly unavailable, the Nationals' left-hander threw the second complete game of the year by Washington's starters. It was also the second complete game of the 26-year-old starter's five-year MLB career. Gonzalez's teammates, including Clippard, were impressed by what they saw from Gio tonight...

• Tyler Clippard via the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore:

"Today, it was like a Little League game for Gio," Clippard said. "Hits the two-run homer, we win by one and he throws a complete game. That’s like Williamsport Little League stuff. It’s awesome. What a day for him."

"Gio couldn't have been any better," the Nats' manager told reporters after the game, "I mean, he pitched an outstanding ballgame. We hug a lot and I'm going to hug him more. My whole bullpen should hug him. But what a great effort." Through seven innings, Gonzalez had thrown just 81 pitches, allowing Davey Johnson to stick with him on a night he desperately wanted to rest his pen after back-to-back extra inning games. "His pitch count was great," Johnson said, "It was a nice evening and really a lot of the hits [the Astros] got were the cheap variety, so it looked like to me he was still throwing great, so I had no hesitation."

"This was just a great outing by [Gonzalez]," the skipper said, "To save the bullpen and set us up because we've been beat up the four days at home and then the two extra inning games here." Giving his relievers a break, Johnson admitted, "... was imperative. I wasn't going to use either closer I had and I didn't want to use really [anybody] out there." Craig Stammen was available as was Sean Burnett in necessary, "But I didn't really want to go to any of those guys," the manager said, "and I really didn't have to."

With the win, Gonzalez improved to (14-6) on the season with 54 walks (3.45 BB/9) and 154 K's (9.83 K/9), lowering his ERA (from 3.34 to 3.32) and FIP to (2.69 to 2.68) slightly over his nine innings of work. Asked by MASN's Kristina Akra what it was like to work with Kurt Suzuki again, Gonzalez began to respond and then got a shaving cream filled towel shoved in his face by fellow starter Edwin Jackson. Gonzalez's face was covered. His hair? Didn't move.

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