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Nationals 3-0 over Cubs: Gio Gonzalez with seven scoreless in Wrigley Field

Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez was up to 21 scoreless innings vs Chicago over his last three starts against the Cubs when he was done with seven scoreless innings this afternoon in the day half of today's day/night doubleheader. 3-0 Nats.

Jonathan Daniel

And the ghost of Carl, he approached my window Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: After 5 2/3 innings of futility against debuting Chicago Cubs' right-hander Dallas Wheeler, 24-year-old Washington Nationals' third baseman Anthony Rendon finally got the Nats on the board, doubling with two down, tatking third on a passed ball and then scoring on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead after five and a half innings in Wrigley Field.

Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez threw seven scoreless on 99 pitches to preserve the 1-0 lead and compile 13 scoreless innings pitched in his last two starts and Rendon came through again in the top of the eighth, driving Denard Span in from first with a one-out RBI triple to right-center that made it a 2-0 Nats' lead. A sac fly to left off Adam LaRoche's bat brought Rendon in from third to make it 3-0.

Tyler Clippard threw a scoreless eighth and Rafael Soriano handled the ninth. Ballgame.

3-0 Nats in the first of two today.

4. Gio in Chicago: In two starts since returning from the DL, 28-year-old Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez has put up a 3.27 ERA and a 3.28 FIP in 11 IP in which he's walked seven (5.73 BB/9), struck out 11 (9.00 K/9) and held opposing hitters to a .211/.356/.306 line. Last time out, on the road in Milwaukee's Miller Park, Gonzalez threw six scoreless innings, walking four and giving up three hits in a 3-0 Nats' win.

"[Gonzalez] made pitches when he needed to and to keep these guys off-balance was a pretty good job." -Randy Knorr on Gio Gonzalez vs Milwaukee

Nationals' Bench Coach Randy Knorr, who took over on the bench when Matt Williams was ejected in Miller Park, said afterwards that he thought Gonzalez's second start since returning from his first trip to the Disabled List in his major league career, was a step forward for the southpaw, who gave up five hits, three walks and four earned runs the first time out.

"I think it was better today," Knorr told reporters. "We had a chance to push him a little bit. He threw what? 115 pitches or close to it and I think it's good for him. Stretch him out a little bit and I thought he threw the ball fine."

The win left Gonzalez (4-4) on the year with a 4.38 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 27 walks (3.94 BB/9) and 64 Ks (9.34 K/9) in 61 ⅔ IP. This afternoon, in Wrigley Field, Gonzalez was facing the Chicago Cubs for the fifth time in his career.

In the previous four outings, the former Oakland A's starter acquired by the Nationals in 2011, was (1-1) with a 3.97 ERA, seven walks (2.78 BB/9) and 24 Ks (9.52 K/9) in in 22 ⅔ IP, over which he held Cubs' hitters to a combined .235/.290/.329 line.

Two of those starts took place in Chicago, where Gonzalez gave up 15 hits and 10 ER (10.38 ERA) in 8 ⅔ IP in which he walked six and struck out nine with Cubs' hitters putting up a combined .405/.477/.595 line.

Gonzalez's third career start in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field began with three quick outs...

1st: Junior Lake, returning from a collision with a metal door in center field in the series opener, popped out to second for the first out of the Cubs' first. Justin Ruggiano grounded out to first and Anthony Rizzo grounded out to second to end a quick, nine-pitch opening frame.

2nd: Ryan Zimmerman made a shoestring catch on a fly to left by Starlin Castro. Mike Olt was punched out on a check swing strike three on a 1-2 curve in the dirt. Chris Coghlan stepped in with two out and went down looking at 2-2 fastball outside that was called strike three by home plate ump Jerry Layne. 12-pitch, 1-2-3, 21 total after two.

3rd: Darwin Barney went with a 2-2 curve outside but lined out to first. John Baker grounded back to the mound for out no.2. Cubs' starter Dallas Beeler singled to center for the first hit of the game off Gonzalez, but Junior Lake K'd swinging over a 1-2 bender to end the Nats' starter's third scoreless inning of work after 19 pitches. 40 total after three.

4th: Denard Span twisted in the wind, but leapt and came down with a fly to center off Justin Ruggiano's bat. Anthony Rizzo walked with one down, but he was doubled up on a fly to center by Starlin Castro in the next at bat when Span sprinted in to make the catch and threw to first base to catch the runner. 11-pitch frame, 51 total after four.

5th: Mike Olt went down swinging at a 1-2 curve. Chris Coghlan drilled an 0-2 curve through the right side of the infield for a one-out single. Darwin Barney lined out to right for out no.2. John Baker fell behind 0-2 quickly, but worked the count full before striking out on an arching curve that fell across the zone. 16-pitch frame, 67 pitches total.

6th: Dallas Beeler grounded out to short. Junior Lake K'd swinging at a 1-2 curve. Justin Ruggiano took a 3-1 fastball low and inside for a two-out walk, Gonzalez's second. Anthony Rizzo grounded to short with two down, and Ian Desmond made the play, but a high throw pulled Adam LaRoche off the bag... or did it? Reversed. Upon review it was ruled that LaRoche touched down before Rizzo reached the bag. 18-pitch frame for Gonzalez, 85 total after six.

7th: Starlin Castro grounded out to third to start the seventh. Mike Olt lined out to a sliding Nate McLouth in right field. Chris Coghlan K'd on a foul tip on a knee-high heater outside to end a 14-pitch frame that left Gonzalez at 99.

Gio Gonzalez's Line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 99 P, 52 S, 6/2 GO/FO.

3. Beeler: Cubs' President Theo Epstein delivered a simple message to 25-year-old right-hander Dallas Beeler when he spoke to the Tulsa, Oklahoma-born, 2010 41st Round pick about making his MLB debut in the first game of today's doubleheader with the Washington Nationals.

"I like going up to young pitchers for the first time,'" Epstein told reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Fred Mitchell. "I tell him he has one start. 'Come out, do your thing. If you throw a no-hitter, you're going back (to Iowa). If you don't get out of the first inning, you're going back, too. Just be yourself, have fun.'"

In 10 starts at Triple-A Iowa this season, Beeler was (5-3) with a 4.03 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 15 walks (2.24 BB/9) and 43 Ks (6.41 K/9) in 60 ⅓ IP after an injury-impacted 2013 campaign in which the sinkerballer was limited to nine starts by a torn tendon in the middle finger on his pitching hand.

When the major league season ended, Beeler went to the Arizona Fall League where he was (4-2) with a 3.13 ERA, 3.61 FIP, five walks (2.08 BB/9) and nine Ks (3.74 K/9) in six starts and 21 ⅔ IP.

This afternoon in Wrigley Field, Beeler began his major league career with a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the first.

Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond K'd swinging and looking, respectively, for the first two outs of the Nats' second, and Kevin Frandsen's groundout to second gave Beeler two scoreless on 22 pitches.

Nate McLouth singled to start the third with the Nats' first hit off Beeler, but a 2-0 sinker to Jose Lobaton got the right-handed starter a 4-6-3 DP on a grounder to second. Gio Gonzalez's groundout to second ended an 11-pitch frame and Beeler's third scoreless after 33 pitches.

The first two Nationals in the fourth reached base safely on a walk by Denard Span and a single to center by Anthony Rendon. Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a force at second to put runners on the corners with one down, but Adam LaRoche lined out to second for out no.2 and Ian Desmond popped out to end the threat. 20-pitch frame. 53 pitches total after four.

A 10-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth gave Beeler five scoreless on 63 pitches.

Denard Span bunted for a hit with one down Nationals' sixth, but got picked off first before another pitch was thrown. Anthony Rendon doubled to left-center in the at bat that followed, mais bien sur. A wild pitch/passed ball moved Rendon to third and Ryan Zimmerman walked to put runners on the corners with two out before a second wild one brought Rendon in. 1-0. 28-pitch frame for Beeler. 91 total after six.

Dallas Beeler's Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 91 P, 54 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

2. 31-30: With wins in each of the first two games of the four-game set in Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs climbed to within one game (31-30) of the Washington Nationals in the head-to-head series between the two teams (2005-present).

Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters after Friday afternoon's loss that the Cubs' patience at the plate paid off in the first two contests.

"The last couple of days with Doug [Fister] and with Tanner [Roark]," Williams said, "they've put together some long at bats... they're grinding at bats on them. It's a credit to their hitters too. We didn't get it done today, but we've got two tomorrow to think about so we'll have to go get them then."

Gio Gonzalez managed to work efficiently through the first four innings this afternoon, completing four scoreless on 51 pitches.

Gio Gonzalez was up to 20.0 scoreless innings overall vs the Cubs, (w/ last two outings seven scoreless in Sept. 2012 and seven more in May 2013), after six scoreless innings on 85 pitches this afternoon and he was done after throwing 99 pitches in seven scoreless inning today. 21 scoreless IP overall vs the Cubs and 13 scoreless in his last two outings.

1. The Wrap-Up: Cubs' right-hander Brian Schlitter retired the Nationals in order in the seventh after taking over on the hill for Dallas Beeler and retired the side in order.

The Nationals added two runs in the eighth, however, with Denard Span singling with one down off Cubs' right-hander Justin Grimm and scoring on an RBI triple to right-center by Anthony Rendon. 2-0. Rendon scored on a sac fly to left by Adam LaRoche (off LHP Wesley Wright) and the Nationals took a 3-0 lead.

Tyler Clippard struck the first two batters he faced out in the Cubs' eighth before Ryan Sweeney drove a two-out single through Adam LaRoche at first. Junior Lake grounded into a force at second, however, ending a scoreless 28-pitch frame by the Nats' right-hander.

Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano!

Rafael Soriano came on in the ninth with a 3-0 lead looking for save no.19 of 2014 and retired the Cubs in order.

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

Nationals now 42-38