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Gio Gonzalez Ks a career-high 12 in seven scoreless, Nationals beat Mets, 3-0

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Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams said Gio Gonzalez looked as good as he has since returning from a DL stint in May/June last time out, but the Nats' lefty was even better tonight, striking out 12 in seven scoreless innings in a 3-0 win over the Mets.

Mitchell Layton

#TEAMGIO Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez and New York Mets' right-hander Zack Wheeler were in a bit of a pitchers' duel at the start with each pitcher tossing three scoreless. Gonzalez made it through the fourth unscathed, but back-to-back singles by Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos and a walk by Nate Schierholtz loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth and Tyler Moore grounded into a force at second to bring in the Nationals' first run. 1-0. A wild pitch/ball four to Scott Hairston in the next at bat allowed Ramos to score from third as the Nats took a 2-0 lead on their NL East rivals. A bases-loaded HBP on Anthony Rendon added to the damage and made it 3-0 Nationals after four in D.C.

Gio Gonzalez threw seven scoreless innings, striking out a career-high twelve batters and the Nationals shut the Mets out for a 3-0 win in the final game of the season with their NL East rivals.

4. Gio vs NY: In four September starts, 28-year-old Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez is (3-1) with a 3.16 ERA, three walks (1.05 BB/9) and 19 Ks (6.66 K/9) in 25 ⅔ IP, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .208/.238/.313 line.

Last time out on the mound, against the Miami Marlins in Marlins Park, Gonzalez put together what Nats' skipper Matt Williams said he thought was Gonzalez's strongest outing since mid-June when the southpaw returned from the first DL stint of his major league career.

"He threw really well. Changeup is really good. Curveball is really good. And a good velocity fastball tonight too when he wanted it." -Matt Williams on Gio Gonzalez vs the Marlins

Gonzalez held the Fish to two runs on six hits in seven innings over which he struck out five, throwing a total of 96 pitches before Williams turned to the bullpen.

"I was really pleased with the way Gio threw it," Williams said afterwards. "He could have gone back out [for the eight], but wanted to make sure that he's ready for his next one as well. He threw really well. Changeup is really good. Curveball is really good. And a good velocity fastball tonight too when he wanted it. So, that may be the best that I've seen him since he's been back from his mini stint with his shoulder issue. But he was really good."

Williams, as he's said before, reiterated that Gonzalez's ability to locate his curve and throw it for strikes early in the count was an important part of his success in Miami.

"It just sometimes steals him a strike," Williams explained. "If I was -- as a hitter -- going to walk up there, I'm certainly not going to look for that first pitch, I'm going to try to get a fastball to hit, so if he can do that, it just steals him a strike and then it opens it up for him. So, he's been doing that a lot and his changeup has been really good too."

Gonzalez's one loss his last seven outings came against the same Mets he was facing tonight in the third game of three with New York in D.C.

That start took place in Citi Field last week, with the Nats' left-hander giving up six hits and four runs, three earned in 6 ⅔ IP of a 4-3 loss. The outing left the Nats' lefty (1-3) in four starts against the Mets this season with a 5.41 ERA, six walks (2.49 BB/9) and 23 Ks (9.55 K/9) in 21 ⅔ IP, over which NY's hitters have put up a .259/.312/.400 line against him.

In his career, Gonzalez was left (6-4) in 12 starts after that outing with a 3.44 ERA and a .204/.280/.319 line against in 70 ⅔ IP against the Mets.

The 13th start of his career against New York's National League team began with a swinging K...

1st: Eric Young, Jr. went down swinging at a looping 0-2 curve. Daniel Murphy hit a bloop single to short left that fell in for a hit. Eric Campbell spit on an 0-2 curve outside, but sent a 1-2 change to third to start an inning-ending 5-4-3. 11-pitch frame for Gonzalez.

2nd: Lucas Duda K'd swinging at a 1-2 fastball inside. Wilmer Flores fell behind 0-2, and went down swinging over a 2-2 bender. Curtis Granderson took a 94 mph 2-2 fastball outside for a called strike three. 18-pitch frame, 3 Ks in the second, 4 K's total, 29 pitches overall.

3rd: Anthony Recker chased a 2-2 fastball up high for Gonzalez's fourth straight K. Ruben Tejada did not see Gio's changeup coming either time Gonzalez threw it to him. K no.5. A 1-2 bender to Zack Wheeler made it six straight Ks. 16-pitch frame. 7 Ks. 45 pitches total.

4th: Eric Young, Jr. sent a fly to left for first out of the fourth. Daniel Murphy went down swinging at a 1-2 fastball for K no.8. Eric Campbell stepped in with two down, fell behind 1-2, worked the count full and sent a deep fly to left field where Scott Hairston made a leaping grab at the wall for out no.3 of a 14-pitch fourth that left Gonzalez at 59 pitches overall.

5th: Lucas Duda K'd looking at an 0-2 change. Wilmer Flores sent a fly to right that Jayson Werth caught after fighting the lights. Curtis Granderson's groundout to second ended an 11-pitch frame that left Gonzalez at 70 pitches with 13-straight Mets set down.

6th: Anthony Recker K'd swinging at a 2-2 fastball. K no.10. Ruben Tejada started up 3-1 and took the first walk of the game from Gonzalez. Josh Satin hit for Zack Wheeler. A pitch in the dirt got by Wilson Ramos, allowing Tejada to take second. Josh Satin K'd swinging for strikeout no.11 of the night for Gonzalez. Eric Young, Jr. stepped in with a runner on second and two out and sent a line drive to right that Jayson Werth tracked down. 18-pitch frame, 88 total after six scoreless.

7th: Daniel Murphy grounded out to short. Eric Campbell took the second free pass of the night from Gonzalez. Lucas Duda K'd swinging at a 1-2 bender. Career-high 12 Ks. Wilmer Flores fell behind 1-2 and lined out to short to end a 15-pitch frame that left Gio at 103 pitches total.

Gio Gonzalez's Line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 Ks, 103 P, 70 S, 3/2 GO/FO.

3. Wheeler Dealer: In twelve second-half starts in his second major league campaign before tonight's, 24-year-old, '09 1st Round pick Zack Wheeler was (6-2) with a 2.88 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 30 walks (3.75 BB/9) and 75 Ks (9.38 K/9) in 72 IP over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .225/.314/.355 line.

Two of the twelve starts have been against the Nationals. In an August 5th outing in Nationals Park, the right-hander gave up seven hits, four walks and one earned run in 6 ⅔ IP in a 6-1 win in which he improved to (7-8) on the year.

Six weeks later, however, in a September 13th in Citi Field, the Nationals connected for seven hits and six earned runs in just four innings over which Wheeler threw 100 pitches before Mets' skipper Terry Collins went to the 'pen.

The loss in New York left the righty (10-10) on the year. He improved to (11-10) with six scoreless innings last time out against the Atlanta Braves.

Back on the mound in the nation's capital tonight, Wheeler was making his eighth career start against the Nats.

In the previous seven outings against Washington, the former San Francisco Giants' first-round pick acquired in return for Carlos Beltran in a July 28th 2011 trade, was (2-5) with a 5.05 ERA and a .292/.350/.453 line against in 41 IP.

Start no.8 against the Nationals began with a scoreless 17-pitch first in which he worked around an error by Ruben Tejada. A 17-pitch, 1-2-3 frame in the second left Wheeler at 34 pitches total after two scoreless.

The Mets' right-hander struck out the Danny Espinosa and Gio Gonzalez for the first two outs of the third and three straight Ks. Anthony Rendon stepped in with two down and lined a single to left for the Nationals' first hit, but one out later, he was stranded at the end of an 18-pitch third that left Wheeler at 52 pitches.

Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos hit back-to-back singles to the right side of the infield to start the Nationals' half of the fourth. Nate Schierholtz walked to load the bases with no one out in front of Tyler Moore. Moore grounded into a force at second that brought Werth home and made it 1-0. A wild pitch on ball four to Scott Hairston allowed Ramos to score and make it 2-0. Danny Espinosa stepped with two on and one out and battled for ten pitches before singling to center to load'em back up. Gio Gonzalez K'd swinging for the second out of the frame. Anthony Rendon took a HBP on his hand, forcing in a run. 3-0. 37-pitch frame, 89 total after four.

Jayson Werth walked to start the fifth, but three outs later he was stranded at third at the end of an 18-pitch fifth that left Wheeler at 107 pitches.

Zack Wheeler's Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 107 P, 81 S, 6/1 GO/FO.

2. Nationals vs Mets: The Washington Nationals entered tonight's nightcap of the split doubleheader with the New York Mets with a 14-4 record against their NL East rivals in 2014. At home in D.C., the Nationals were 5-3 against the Mets. In Citi Field, where the Nationals wrapped up the road-half of the divisional rivalry last week, the Nats were 9-1 in ten games. With the win, the Nationals finished the season series 15-4 against the the Mets with a 6-3 record at home in the nation's capital. See you next year, Metsies.

1. The Wrap-Up: Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a quick, 1-2-3 sixth.

Anthony Rendon bunted his way on to start the Nats' seventh and stole his 17th base of the season in his next at bat. One out later, however, he was picked off second by Matsuzaka. Jayson Werth walked with two down, but Wilson Ramos popped out to end the seventh.

Matt Thornton failed to cover first on a sharp grounder to the right side off Curtis Granderson's bat that bounced off a diving Tyler Moore's glove and went right to Asdrubal Cabrera. Anthony Recker lined out to second. Ruben Tejada reached base on a grounder to short that skipped and bounced off Danny Espinosa. Pinch hitter Bobby Abreu punched one into the left-center gap that Nate Schierholtz tracked down. Eric Young, Jr.'s grounder back to the mound ended a scoreless frame.

Eric Campbell dropped a fly to right off Nate Schierholtz's bat after tracking it down. Gonzalez Germen hit Tyler Moore with his second pitch of the frame. Michael Taylor K'd trying to bunt both runners over. Danny Espinosa grounded into a force at second, putting runners on the corners with two out and Ryan Zimmerman due up in a pinch hit appearance. Zimmerman lined out to first to end the eighth.

STOREN WARNING!!!: Nats' closer Drew Storen came on in the ninth looking for save no.11 of 2014. Daniel Murphy K'd swinging at a 2-2 slider outside. ONE! Kirk Nieuwenhuis grounded out to short. TWO!! Lucas Duda

Nationals now 93-65