Gio Gonzalez's scoreless innings streak ended at 22 innings when he gave up a solo home run by Baltimore Orioles' outfielder Steve Pearce one out into the bottom of the first inning last night in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The only other runs the 28-year-old left-hander gave up in the 4-3 loss to the O's came in a 28-pitch third in which a two-out rally and a throwing error by Ian Desmond led to three runs coming in for the home team. Gonzalez needed just 31 pitches to get through the next three innings as the Nationals rallied to get within one run of the Orioles, but Washington's lefty stumbled again in his final inning of work, issuing one and two-out walks before he was lifted in favor of right-handed reliever Aaron Barrett.
After 6 ⅔ IP in OPACY, Gonzalez was left with a 1.93 ERA in 32 ⅔ innings on the mound since returning from the first DL stint of his major league career.
Over that stretch, he's walked 13 (3.58 BB/9) and struck out 32 (8.82 K/9) while holding opposing hitters to a combined .182/.272/.245 line.
"He was okay," Matt Williams said after the loss to the Orioles. "Two-out walk started it and then the misplay."
The two-out walk was to Nick Markakis. A line drive single to right by Pearce followed. Adam Jones doubled to drive Markakis in and put runners on second and third and Nelson Cruz sent grounder up the middle where Ian Desmond ranged to his left and tracked it down before spinning and firing an off-balance play behind Jones at third, hoping, as he often does, that he could catch the runner rounding the bag.
He sailed the throw, however, and instead of one run scoring on an infield single, two runs crossed on the hit and E:6.
"I thought maybe Ian had a chance at [Cruz] at first," Williams said. "I'm watching him, I wasn't watching the runner, but that one inning got him, other than that [Gonzalez] looked good."
Desmond said he took a risk he has before but this time it cost the Nationals what ended up being the winning run.
"If you go back and look I had a play at third too," Desmond told reporters. "It's just one of those instinct plays. I think if you watch the games you've seen me make that play before. That one got away from me, but you take chances and sometimes you've got to pay the consequences."
Gonzalez said it took him a while to finally feel comfortable on the mound.
"After the first two innings I felt like I found my groove and was going out there and trying to attack the strike zone," he said. "It's a tough lineup to go against these guys... down to the last guy. It's definitely a battle and trying to mix it up and try to go out there and try to work a tough game."
The difference after the first few innings, he said, was the decision to stop nibbling and throw strikes.
"Instead of trying to nitpick the corners and just go out there and try to attack them," Gonzalez explained.
"Again, it's a tough lineup just to say to go out there in the strike zone. Each one of those guys can make you pay for it. And I was just trying to do my best to at least keep the team in the game as long as possible. But there's no excuses. I have to pitch better if I want better results. I can't be walking guys with two outs and I can't be falling behind on a good-hitting team like that."
On the year, after the loss to the Orioles, Gonzalez is now (6-5) with a 3.56 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 33 walks (3.56 BB/9) and 85 Ks (9.18 K/9) in 14 games and 83 ⅓ IP.
• We talked about Gonzalez's outing, Ryan Zimmerman barreling one up, Ian Desmond's error and more last night on Nats Nightly: