In his last three starts, all losses, Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez has given up 20 hits, 16 runs, 14 earned (10.22 ERA) and six walks. Opposing hitters have put up a .377/.419/.623 line against him. Last night in the nation's capital, the 29-year-old starter let the Padres' leadoff run on in each of the first four innings. San Diego took a 4-0 lead when Matt Kemp hit a two-run double in the fourth and Matt Kemp followed with a two-run home run.
Gonzalez gave up another in the fourth, after a single, walk, sac bunt and sac fly/foul pop brought in a run. He was done after just 4 ⅔ innings pitched, over which he threw a total of 86 pitches.
"Tonight he worked through the first inning," Matt Williams told reporters after what ended up a 6-5 loss. "Had a little trouble, worked through and couldn't get through the next time around with those guys in the middle of the order.
"Kemp hit a fastball to right-center for the double and then Upton picked on a fastball too, and there's the four there."
Gonzalez was asked what gave him the most trouble?
"Nothing," he said. "Not really anything. I was pounding the strike zone, I was getting ahead of the hitters, maybe walked two guys. Other than that, typical start."
Williams said the runners Gonzalez let on didn't necessarily help.
"We talk about it all the time," he explained. "It's traffic. It's traffic for the pitcher. Out of the stretch, rhythm is certainly different. So, we talk about it with regard to our offense all time. It just makes it more difficult, puts pressure on."
"You've got to pitch either way," Gonzalez said. "It's a team that's going to put runners on base and you've still got to pitch whether from the windup or the stretch."
Before the Padres scored four in the third, Gonzalez looked for a moment like he might have been able to work out of trouble.
The opposing pitcher, Tyson Ross, singled to start the frame. Yangervis Solarte popped out and Melvin Upton, Jr. grounded into what could have been a 5-4-3, but Yunel Escobar struggled with the ball, and his throw to first pulled Ryan Zimmerman off the bag, putting two runners on in front of Kemp, who drove in the first two runs.
"He caught it fine," Williams explained, in discussing the Escobar error.. "He had trouble transferring -- he was going to go to second -- transferring out of his glove, and then decided to go to first and didn't quite get his feet set."
"You've got to make a better pitch," Gonzalez said when asked about working around the error. "You've got to get an out."
The Nationals rallied to get within one in the bottom of the seventh, after Upton's second home run of the game in the top of the inning put the Padres up 6-2, but they fell short with Escobar grounding into a 5-4-3 DP on a 3-0 pitch with runners on the corners and one out.
The loss snapped the Nats' three-game winning streak, and the New York Mets' sixth straight win left them 6.5 games back in the East.
• In other Gio Gonzalez news, the left-handed starter apparently changed agents:
Agent update: #Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez now a Scott Boras client. Formerly with ACES group.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) August 27, 2015