Washington Nationals 7-5 Over Arizona Diamondbacks In Series Opener In D.C.: Gio Gonzalez Strong; Adam LaRoche Hits 3-Run Blast

Greg Fiume

The Washington Nationals jumped out to an early lead with a five-run third highlighted by a three-run home by Adam LaRoche and the Nats held on for a 7-5 win in the first game of three in D.C. with the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks. Gio Gonzalez earned the win for his efforts...

Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez looked uncomfortable on the mound at the start of tonight's game in the early evening 90° heat in the nation's capital. The 28-year-old Nats' starter was stretching his back, gritting his teeth and wincing, and he gave up a leadoff double to right center by the Arizona Diamondbacks' Willie Bloomquist in the first at bat. A popout and groundout followed with the D-Backs' leadoff man moving around to third, but Bloomquist was stranded there when Gonzalez struck Miguel Montero out to end a 17-pitch first in Nationals Park. 25-year-old Diamondbacks' right-hander Trevor Cahill needed 14 pitches to get through the bottom of the first, walking Jayson Werth with two down before Adam LaRoche flew out to left to end the home-half of the inning.

Former Braves' troublemaker Martin Prado singled to center on a 93 mph full-count fastball from Gio Gonzalez with one down in the top of the second and took second base on a weak groundout by Gerardo Parra, but when Prado tried to score from there on a two-out single to center by D-Backs' outfielder A.J. Pollock he was thrown out at home by Denard Span. Span threw a strike to catcher Kurt Suzuki, who made the catch and blocked the plate before applying a sweeping tag. "You're out!" yelled the ump. 17-pitch second for Gonzalez. 34 overall after two. 17 pitches got Trevor Cahill three quick outs in the bottom of the inning after which he was up to 31 pitches.

Aaron Hill hit a low 94 mph 3-1 fastball back up the middle, over the mound, under Gio Gonzalez's glove and out of Ian Desmond's reach for a two-out single to center field, but a 2-2 change to Paul Goldschmidt got Arizona's hard-hitting first baseman swinging for the final out of the third straight 17-pitch inning by the Nationals' lefty. Kurt Suzuki walked to start the Nats' second, allowing Gio Gonzalez to bunt his catcher over/give up an out. A single to center by Denard Span brought Suzuki around and the Nationals took a 1-0 lead over the D-Backs. Anthony Rendon took a 1-2 sinker outside to right for an opposite field single that moved Span to second and a wild pitch to Jayson Werth moved both runners up. Werth's single through short brought Span home. 2-0 Nationals. Adam LaRoche fell behind 0-2, then hit an 80 mph change out to left that... just. kept. going. LaRoche's 11th home run of 2013 landed in the left field bullpen. 5-0 Nats after three.

Gio Gonzalez threw a 94 mph 1-2 fastball by Miguel Montero for out no.1 of the fourth and Gonzalez's third K. Cody Ross sent a weak fly to left for a one-out single not even Roger Bernadina could reach, but Ross was doubled up on an inning-ending 3-6 DP that started with a Martin Prado grounder to first and ended with Ian Desmond tagging Prado out after LaRoche had fielded the ball, stepped on the bag and made a perfect throw to second. 10-pitch inning for Gio Gonzalez, 61 overall. Denard Span lined a singled to right to start the Nationals' fourth, then took second when a Kurt Suzuki liner to short bounced off Willie Bloomquist's glove, but both runners were stranded three outs later and the Nats took their 5-0 lead to the fifth.

An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 frame against the D-Backs' 7-8-9 hitters had Gio Gonzalez up to 72 pitches overall after five. The Nationals' left-hander had a 6-0 lead after the bottom of the inning. Jayson Werth doubled to right to start the inning, taking an 0-1 sinker from Trevor Cahill the other way, then took third on an Adam LaRoche single and scored on an Ian Desmond sac fly to make it a six-run lead after five inninings in D.C.

Gio Gonzalez got one out with one pitch in the sixth when Willie Bloomquist flew to Denard Span to start the frame. Aaron Hill doubled to right on a 95 mph full-count fastball, and took third when Paul Goldschmidt lined a first-pitch fastball outside to right. Miguel Montero jumped on a first-pitch curve and hit a chopper through the right side to bring in a run, 6-1. A two-out walk to Martin Prado loaded the bases, but a Gerardo Para groundout ended the threat. 19-pitch inning, 91 overall for Gio Gonzalez. D-Backs' rookie Zeke Spruill took over for Arizona and retired the side in order in a 13-pitch bottom of the sixth.

D-Backs' outfielder A.J. Pollock hit a 1-0 fastball to center for the D-Backs' eighth hit off Gio Gonzalez in the first at bat of the top of the seventh. A groundout by Cliff Pennington moved Pollock to second and ended Gonzalez's night after 97 pitches. Drew Storen got a groundout to short from Willie Bloomquist for out no.2, but Aaron Hill spit on a 3-2 slider outside and walked to to put runners on the corners for Paul Goldschmidt with two down. The D-Backs' hard-hitting first baseman lined a 1-2 fastball to left for an RBI single that brought Pollock in to make it 6-2 and Arizona got another run when Anthony Rendon misplayed a sharp grounder to second from Miguel Montero. 6-3 Nationals after six and a half.

Gio Gonzalez's Line: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 97 P, 61 S, 8/1 GO/FO.

Anthony Rendon took a 2-2 curve to center for his second hit in four at bats (.340 AVG on the year). D-Backs' right-hander Will Harris walked Jayson Werth to put two on for Adam LaRoche. LaRoche singled to right on a 3-1 cutter, but Gerardo Para came up throwing and nailed Anthony Rendon at home when the Nats' rookie tried to score from second. Ian Desmond grounded into a force at second to put runners on the corners with two down. D-Backs' skipper Kirk Gibson went to the pen for lefty Tony Sipp, so Davey Johnson countered with right-handed pinch hitter Ryan Zimmerman, but Zimmerman popped out to end the seventh with the score still 6-3 Nationals.

Martin Prado crushed a 2-2 change from Tyler Clippard, sending a solo home run out to left that cut the Nats' lead to 6-4 in the top of the eighth, but Clippard retired the next three D-Backs in order to end a 13-pitch frame. Brad Ziegler took over for Arizona in the eighth and retired the first two batters he faced before Steve Lombardozzi doubled on a fly to right Gerardo Parra couldn't catch. It looked like Arizona would escape any damage, however, when Denard Span grounded to first, but Paul Goldschmidt tossed behind the covering pitcher and it got away from him, allowing Lombardozzi to score. 7-4. Cue his music...

"Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Rafael Soriano took the mound in the ninth looking for save no.20. Willie Bloomquist lined to left. ONE! Aaron Hill flew out to Roger Bernadina. TWO!! Paul Goldschmidt? Singled to right to bring Miguel Montero up. Montero worked the count full... and singled to right. 7-5 Nationals. Cody Ross? Singled to left. Martin Prado? Grounded into a force at second. Ballgame.

Work's done!! Untuck that jersey, son!!

Nationals now 38-38.

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