Gio Gonzalez threw 77 pitches in 3 1/3 in his last start against the Kansas City Royals in Kauffman Stadium, 24 of them in an opening frame in which he gave up three hits and three runs. When he was done for the night in that outing last Friday, he'd allowed 10 hits and seven runs. Back in the nation's capital tonight, in his 27th start of 2013, the 27-year-old lefty retired the first two batters he faced on nine pitches before giving up a two-out walk to Giancarlo Stanton and a single by Justin Ruggiano. Placido Polanco's line drive to right ended a 21-pitch inning with Jayson Werth making the catch for out no.3 of the series finale with the visiting Fish.
Denard Span singled to start the Nationals' first, extending his current hit streak to 12-straight games, and Nats' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman singled on a line drive to left in the next at bat to put two runners on with no one out against Miami right-hander Tom Koehler. The Marlins' starter got Bryce Harper swinging with an 0-2 slider inside, however, and a got a 4-6-3 inning-ending DP out of Jayson Werth. 0-0 after one in D.C.
Donovan Solano stepped in with runners on the corners, two on with two out in the top of the second and walked on four pitches to push Gio Gonzalez up to 16 pitches in the frame and 40 overall on the night. Three pitches later, Ed Lucas flew out to Denard Span in center to leave the bases loaded at the end of Gonzalez's second scoreless inning vs the Fish. 43 pitches overall though. Tom Koehler was up to 16 pitches total after six-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the second.
Giancarlo Stanton hit a 92 mph fastball about 450 feet to left field, but foul and then ended up striking out to end an eight-pitch at bat in the top of the third. Gio Gonzalez got Justin Ruggiano to ground out to second. Placido Polanco's soft liner to first ended an 11-pitch inning that left the Nats' lefty at 54 overall. Tom Koehler had eight straight batters in a row set down after back-to-back singles started his first inning of work when he retired the Nationals in order in an eight-pitch bottom of the third that had him up to 24 pitches overall in three scoreless.
Adeiny Hechavarria was the fifth straight Marlin set down by Gio Gonzalez when the Fish shortstop K'd swinging through a 93 mph 1-2 heater in the first at bat of the fourth. Jake Marisnick singled to center with one down on a weak fly to center, but two outs and two more swinging Ks later, Marisnick was stranded at first when the Nationals' starter got the Marlins' swinging with a 94 mph 1-2 heater to end a 21-pitch inning at 75 total.
Ryan Zimmerman's leadoff walk in the Nationals' fourth snapped Tom Koehler's streak of retired batters at eight and Bryce Harper broke up the Marlins' starter's shutout bid with a two-run home run to left that landed in the flower bed atop the left field wall. 2-0 Nationals after four. No.19 of 2013 for the Nats' 20-year-old slugger.
Donovan Solano was the sixth strikeout victim in 4 1/3 IP by Gio Gonzalez when the Marlins' second baseman chased a 2-2 curve for a swinging strike three in the first at bat of the fifth. A fly to right by Ed Lucas and a pop to foul territory off first by Giancarlo Stanton ended a quick, 14-pitch, 1-2-3 inning by the Nationals' left-handed starter. 89 pitches overall. 10 of 11 set down for Gonzalez after Miami loaded the bases in the second. Anthony Rendon walked with one down in the Nats' fifth, then took second on a sac bunt by Gio Gonzalez before he was stranded there by a Denard Span groundout.
Span caught the first out of the sixth on a line drive to center by Justin Ruggiano. Placido Polanco flew out to right. Adeiny Hechavarria's groundout to third ended a nine-pitch inning, after which Gio Gonzalez was up to 98 overall. Six scoreless. Eight straight set down and 13 of the last 14.
After the strong throw to get Hechavarria and end the top of the inning, Ryan Zimmerman singled to center to start the Nationals' sixth with his second hit in three plate appearances. Bryce Harper worked an eight-pitch walk out of Tom Koehler in the next at bat to put two on for Jayson Werth with no one out. The three-run blast Werth hit into the left field seats made it a 5-0 Nats' lead after six in D.C. A single by Ian Desmond and a walk to Adam LaRoche ended Koehler's night. Wilson Ramos flew out to right, allowing Desmond to take third and Anthony Rendon's one-out RBI single brought his double play partner in to make it 6-0 Nats after six in D.C.
Gio Gonzalez added two Ks in a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh that had him up to 98 overall after seven scoreless against the Marlins. Ryan Zimmerman was 3 for 3 after his leadoff single in the bottom of the inning and Bryce Harper was 2 for 3 after he connected for the second straight hit. Jayson Werth singled to center, but Ryan Zimmerman got thrown out at home for the first out of the inning. Ian Desmond took a 1-2 change from Sam Dyson deep to left in the next at bat and his three-run home run made it 9-0 Nats after seven in D.C.
Tanner Roark needed just five pitches, four of them strikes to retire the Marlins in order in the top of the eighth. After the Nationals went down in order against Steve Cisek in the bottom of the inning, Roark came back out for the ninth and got the first out with one pitch when Justin Ruggiano flew out to right. Pinch hitter Juan Pierre grounded back to the mound. Adeiny Hechavarria... reached on an a swinging bunt in spite of a strong play by Roark. Jake Marisnick popped to center and the Nationals completed the sweep. Ballgame.
Nationals now 68-65