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Nationals drop 5-2 decision to Mets: Gio Gonzalez struggles again in loss to NY

Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez threw 84 pitches in three innings of work, and gave up five runs before he out of the game in what ended up a 5-2 loss to the New York Mets this afternoon in the nation's capital. What's wrong with Gio?

Mitchell Layton

Nat Gio Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Washington Nationals' left-hander Gio Gonzalez loaded the bases with one down with a four-pitch walk to Chris Young in the top of the first inning this afternoon and then left an 0-2 pitch out over the plate for New York Mets' rookie Eric Campbell, who hit a two-run line drive to center to make it 2-0 early in the second game of the three-game weekend series in D.C. Juan Lagares hit an RBI single to right in the next at bat and it was 3-0 Mets before Gonzalez finished a 37-pitch opening frame.

Juan Lagares was 2 for 2 today with an RBI single and a two-run home run after he took a 3-2 fastball to the left of center field and into the Red Porch seats for a 5-0 lead over the Nationals and Gonzalez after two and a half innings in the nation's capital.

Gonzalez was lifted after throwing 84 pitches in just three innings on the mound.

The Nationals put two runs up in the fourth when Ian Desmond took a 1-2 change from Bartolo Colon to left field for a two-run blast, his sixth of the season. 5-2 NY.

It was still 5-2 Mets after eight and a half, and that's how it ended after Jenrry Mejia earned his first major league save with a scoreless ninth.

4. Frustrated Gio: Gio Gonzalez's return to Oakland last weekend, three years after the trade that brought him to the Nationals from the A's, didn't go as the 28-year-old left-hander planned. Coming off a strong 7 1/3 inning outing in Citizens Bank Park in which he gave up just four hits and one earned run, Gonzalez struggled on the mound in the Coliseum, giving up nine hits, three walks and seven runs in 4 1/3 IP against the Athletics before Nats' skipper Matt Williams went to the bullpen.

"It just seemed like he was 2-0 on everybody," Williams told reporters the loss last Sunday.

"Just behind in the count. [Derek] Norris hit a couple of late, 3-0 fastballs out of the ballpark. That happens. But he fell behind a lot today and had to throw the ball over the plate."

Gonzalez was frustrated. He engaged in a shouting match with an unnamed teammate after the second inning of the loss to the A's and after the game talked about grooving the two 3-0 fastballs to Norris that both ended up leaving the yard for three-run home runs each time.

"3-0 fastball down the middle. Would you wait for that pitch?" he asked rhetorically after the game. "Especially with men on base? I would have done the same thing."

The rough outing left Gonzalez (3-3) on the year after eight starts with a 3.97 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 18 walks (3.40 BB/9) and 49 Ks (9.25 K/9) after 47 2/3 IP in 2014, over which opposing hitters had a combined .235/.305/.403 line.

This afternoon in the nation's capital, Gonzalez was facing a New York Mets team he'd dominated since joining the Nationals in 2012. He'd won six straight decision against the Nats' NL East rivals from NY heading into today's game and was (6-1) vs the Mets overall in nine career starts vs NY, with a 2.45 ERA, 22 walks (3.60 BB/9) and 49 Ks (8.02 K/9) in 55 IP, over which he'd held Mets' hitters to a .174/.257/.282 line.

As Gonzalez looked for his his seventh straight win over the Mets, his first inning of work this afternoon started with a swinging K.

1st: Eric Young, Jr. K'd swinging at a 78 mph 1-2 curve in the first at bat this afternoon. Daniel Murphy lined to right-center for a single on the first pitch he saw. David Wright was fooled by a 3-2 change, but managed to make contact, and his swinging bunt got by Gio Gonzalez and died in the infield grass for a hit. Chris Young stepped up with two on and one out and walked on four pitches to load the bases. Mets' rookie Eric Campbell fell behind 0-2, but lined the 0-2 pitch he got to center field to make it 2-0 Mets early in D.C. Juan Lagares hit a 93 mph 1-1 heater to right in the next at bat to drive in another run and it was 3-0 NY with Gonzalez up to 21 pitches. Anthony Recker flew to right for out no.2. Danny Espinosa dropped a pop down the right field line off Wilmer Flores' bat. Given a second shot, the Mets' shortstop walked to load the bases for the second time. Gonzalez popped Bartolo Colon up to right, however, but not until after he'd thrown 37 pitches in the opening frame.

2nd: Eric Young, Jr. K'd swinging through a 94 mph 2-2 fastball to end an eight-pitch at bat. Gonzalez gave up a one-out single to right on a 3-1 fastball to Daniel Murphy, but got a 6-4-3 inning-ender out of David Wright to finish the second. 17-pitch inning, 54 overall after two.

3rd: Gio Gonzalez fell behind Chris Young, 3-1, but Denard Span tracked down Young's fly to deep center field on the track in front of the out-of-town scoreboard. Eric Campbell was 2 for 2 today after he took a 2-2 change through short for a one-out single. Juan Lagares took a 3-2 fastball to center on the seventh pitch of his one-out at bat and it went out and into the Red Porch seats for a two-run home run that made it 5-0 Mets. Anthony Recker K'd swinging at a 3-2 change. Wilmer Flores K'd looking to end the inning, but the 30-pitch frame left Gonzalez at 84 overall after three.

• That was it for Gio Gonzalez...

• Gio Gonzalez's line: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 84 P, 48 S, 1/3 GO/FO.

3. vs LHP: The Nationals' big night against Mets' lefty Jon Niese on Friday, left them with a combined .286/.339/.434 line vs LHP as a team in 2014, good for second in AVG in the NL (behind Colorado .304), third in OBP (behind the Rockies, .350, and Atlanta Braves, .342) and third in SLG, (behind, again, the Rockies, .489 and Braves, .470).

"I think it's predominantly our power guys are right-handed," Matt Williams told a reporter who asked about the Nats' success against lefties last night. "Predominantly. With the exception of [Adam LaRoche] when he's in there. The middle of the lineup is right-handed. So, that speaks well to the matchups against a lefty, but you still have to have a nice approach and stay on the baseball. I think it's good that we have a lot of guys that hit the ball to the opposite gap. So when you're facing a left-hander, it helps to have that natural approach."

Their .238/.306/.381 line against RHPs, however, had them 10th of 15 NL teams in AVG, 9th in OBP and 8th in SLG.

The Nationals faced a struggling right-hander today in the nation's capital...

2. Big Bart: New York's big right-hander Bartolo Colon gave up one hit through three scoreless when he debuted for the Mets against the Nationals back on April 2nd in Citi Field, but the Nats got to the 40-year-old veteran in the fourth with Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche hitting back-to-back doubles to tie the game up at 1-1. Ian Desmond and today's starter, Gio Gonzalez, hit solo home runs off Colon in the fifth inning that day and the Nationals were on their way to what ended up a 5-1 win.

In his career, Colon was (1-2) with a 2.35 ERA and a .292/.304/.449 line against vs Washington after that outing.

Entering this afternoon's start, the Mets' righty was (2-5) on the year with a 5.84 ERA, a 4.07 FIP, five walks (0.91 BB/9) and 38 Ks (6.93 K/9) in 49 1/3 IP.

Bartolo Colon took the mound in the first with a 3-0 lead and retired the Nats in order in a quick, 13-pitch frame.

Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa hit back-to-back one-out singles in the second, but Tyler Moore grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3.

Nate McLouth doubled to right to start the fourth, but three outs later he was stranded at second at the end of the second-straight 10-pitch frame by Colon, who was up to 33 pitches after three.

Jayson Werth took the sixth walk in 52+ innings of work by Colon this season in the first at bat of the Nats' fourth, and one out later, Ian Desmond made the Mets' starter pay for the free pass with a two-run blast to left that got the Nationals within three, at 5-2.

Craig Stammen doubled with one down in the Nats' fifth, but Denard Span K'd swinging for the second out of the inning and Anthony Rendon grounded back to the mound to end a 14-pitch frame that left Colon at 70 pitches total after five innings pitched.

Juan Lagares helped Colon out in the Nats' sixth, pulling a potential home run by Jayson Werth off the top of the center field wall.

Colon started the seventh at 80 pitches overall. He was up to 95 overall and eight straight batters retired after a 1-2-3 frame.

The Mets' big right-hander came back our for the eighth and retired the side in order. Eleven straight Nationals set down...

Bartolo Colon's Line: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 105 P, 71 S, 7/6 GO/FO.

• Hey, remember last night?:

1. The Wrap-Up: Craig Stammen took over for Gio Gonzalez in the fourth and retired the Mets in order in a seven-pitch frame.

After the Nationals scored two on Colon in the bottom of the fourth, Stammen threw another 1-2-3 frame, setting the first six batters he faced down in order. Stammen doubled with one down in the bottom of the fifth, but was stranded at second two outs later.

Wilmer Flores singled to right with two down in the top of the sixth for the first hit of the game off Stammen, but the right-hander was through three scoreless on 35 pitches after he struck Bartolo Colon out to end the Mets' fifth.

Stammen issued his first walk of the game to Daniel Murphy in the first at bat of the Mets' seventh, and the NY second baseman went around to third when Tyler Moore missed a grounder to first off David Wright's bat. E:3. Stammen pitched around the error though, and finished four scoreless in relief.

Aaron Barrett took over in the top of the eighth and retired the Mets in order.

Jerry Blevins took the mound in the top of the ninth and threw a quick, 1-2-3 frame.

Mets' "closer" Jenrry Mejia took over on the mound in the bottom of the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to center by Jayson Werth. Mejia got Wilson Ramos to chase a 3-2 slider off the plate outside for out no.1. Ian Desmond grounded into a force at second for out no.2. Danny Espinosa K'd swinging. Ballgame.

Nationals now 22-20