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Nationals drop series opener to Marlins, 2-1, for fourth straight loss overall

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A botched play on a bunt in the Miami Marlins' seventh set the Fish up to score the go-ahead run and they took the series opener from the Washington Nationals, 2-1. It was the Nats' fourth straight loss overall. Gio Gonzalez put together a solid start though...

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5. G.I.O. in M.I.A.: Gio Gonzalez snapped a streak of four winless starts last time out, earning a win with six scoreless innings of work on the mound against the Atlanta Braves in Nationals Park.

Washington's 29-year-old lefty gave up four walks and two hits, striking out a season-high 10 batters in an 8-2 win in the nation's capital in which he threw 106 pitches before he was done for the night.

"Threw some good breaking balls to strike guys out... hard breaking balls down and in to the righties with two strikes was effective for him too. Managed pitch counts innings two through four..." -Matt Williams on Gio Gonzalez vs ATL last time out

"I just thought he commanded the strike zone well today," Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters. "Threw some good breaking balls to strike guys out too.

"Hard breaking balls down and in to the righties with two strikes was effective for him too. Managed pitch counts innings two through four and he was able to get through six for us."

Gonzalez took a no-hit bid into the sixth and ended his outing with a 30-pitch frame which saw him work around two singles and a walk.

The left-hander gave all the credit for the outing to the Nationals' defense and Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos.

"He was telling me yesterday and he was telling me today, 'Let's go, let's pound the strike zone," Gonzalez said of his conversations with Ramos before the start.

"Before the game I also told [pitching coach Steve McCatty], 'I trust Willy's game, and I'm going to follow his program and it worked.' He knows what he's doing back there and he's caught some great games."

The win left Gonzalez (10-7) on the year with a 3.96 ERA, a 3.14 FIP, 57 walks (3.47 BB/9), 137 Ks (8.35 K/9) and a .271/.342/.389 line against in 147 ⅔ IP.

He was taking on the Marlins tonight, after giving up ten hits and six earned runs in a 6-2 loss in Miami back in April.

Gonzalez gave up a leadoff single to start the first, but got a quick, 4-6-3 DP out of Christian Yelich in the next AB. Martin Prado took a two-out walk, but a 1-2 bender got Justin Bour swinging for out no.3 of a 15-pitch first.

A 15-pitch, 1-2-3 second left Gonzalez at 30 total after two. An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 third gave him seven straight outs and three scoreless on 41 pitches.

Martin Prado walked with one down in the Marlins' fourth, took third on a single to right by Justin Bour and scored on a grounder to short by Marcell Ozuna. 1-0 Fish. 19-pitch frame, 60 total after four.

Miguel Rojas beat a diving Anthony Rendon to the hole with a one-out single to right field in the Marlins' fifth, Casey McGehee hit for Jarred Cosart, but K'd looking at a 1-2 fastball. Dee Gordon stepped in with two out and grounded into a force at second to end a 12-pitch inning. 72 total for Gonzalez.

Christian Yelich battled Gonzalez for nine pitches before lining an opposite field single to left in the first at bat of the Marlins' sixth. The third walk of the night to Martin Prado put two on with no one out. Yelich took third on a long fly to center by Justin Bour that ended Gio Gonzalez's outing fifteen pitches into the sixth...

• Gio Gonzalez's Line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 87 P, 50 S, 6/3 GO/FO.

4. Cosart vs D.C.: Jarred Cosart, 25, has missed signficant time this season while dealing with the effects of vertigo.

Miami's right-handed starter returned to the mound on September 6th for his first MLB start since July 4th and went 4 ⅔ IP against the New York Mets, giving up five hits, a walk and one earned run in a 4-3 win in which he received no decision.

"His stuff is there, the [velocity] is there, the action on the pitches are there. Now it's just a matter of building up the stamina and executing it in the games." - Dan Jennings on Jarred Cosart vs the Mets last time out

"His stuff is there, the [velocity] is there, the action on the pitches are there," Marlins' manager Dan Jennings told reporters, including Sun-Sentinel writer Craig Davis, after Miami's win.

"Now it's just a matter of building up the stamina and executing it in the games."

The outing was Cosart's tenth appearance and ninth start of his first full season in the Marlins' rotation after he was acquired from the Houston Astros at the trade deadline in 2014.

He took the mound tonight (1-4) on the year with a 5.09 ERA, a 5.38 FIP, 18 walks (3.52 BB/9), 29Ks (5.67 K/9) and a .237/.316/.480 line against in 46 IP in his starts.

Cosart was making his fourth career start against the Nationals, after going (0-2) against Washington in the previous three outings, with a 3.63 ERA, 12 walks and 11 Ks in 17 ⅓ IP, over which Nats' hitters have put up a .277/.397/.462 line against him.

Jayson Werth walked to start tonight's game, took second on a groundout by Anthony Rendon and third on a passed ball with Bryce Harper up. Harper walked to put runners on the corners with one out, but Yunel Escobar popped to second for out no.2 and Ian Desmond K'd swinging for out no.3 of a 23-pitch first by Cosart.

WIlson Ramos singled to center to start the second, but three outs later he was stranded at first as Cosart completed a scoreless 18-pitch frame that left him at 41 total after two.

The Nationals went down in order in a 14-pitch third that pushed Cosart up to 55 pitches.

Yunel Escobar singled to start the fourth, but Ian Desmond grounded into a 5-4-3 in the next AB. Wilson Ramos was 2 for 2 tonight after a two-out single to left, but Michael Taylor K'd swinging to end a 12-pitch frame. 67 total.

Gio Gonzalez took a one-out walk in the top of the fifth and took second on a single to right by Jayson Werth. Anthony Rendon sent a fly to right for the second out of the inning. Bryce Harper stepped in with two on and two out and went down swinging at a 1-2 curve.

• Jared Cosart's Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 90 P, 55 S, 4/1 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: Nationals' center fielder Michael Taylor returned to the lineup tonight after missing time with a swollen right knee. On the year, the rookie outfielder is tied for 13th in the majors and 10th in the NL with a .352 AVG with RISP in 2015.

• Jayson Werth extended his on-base streak to 19-straight games with a walk in the series finale with the NY Mets on Wednesday. Over the course of his streak, the 36-year-old outfielder has gone 24 for 78 (.308 AVG) with seven doubles, four home runs and 10 walks over that stretch.

• In today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment, the Nationals' offense ranks first in walks (with 100) and OBP (.376), third in runs per game (6.18) and runs scored (136) and fourth in HRs (with 34) in the last 22 games going back to August 18th.

• The Nationals and Marlins have seven games left in the next four weeks. Through 12 games this season, they're tied at 6-6.

• Miami started the season 4-2 against the Nationals, but the Marlins have dropped four of the last six to Washington.

• In today's Marlins-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Martin Prado is 42 for 137 with a .307 AVG and a .357 OBP since August 1st. He ranks third among NL third baseman in RBIs over that stretch (with 25), fourth in OBP and fifth in AVG.

• At home in Miami, Jarred Cosart has a 1.90 ERA and a .181 BAA in 23 ⅔ IP this season vs his 8.46 ERA and .295 BAA away from Marlins Park this season.

2. Turning Point(s): Gio Gonzalez worked around a leadoff single by Miami's leadoff man Dee Gordon and a two-out walk to Martin Prado in a scoreless first, then proceeded to retire eight straight batters before he walked Prado again with one down in the fourth. Prado took third on a single by Justin Bour in the next at bat, and scored on a fielder's choice grounder off of Marcell Ozuna's bat when the Nationals couldn't double up the speedy outfielder. 1-0 Fish after four.

• Yunel Escobar was 2 for 3 tonight after a leadoff single in the sixth and two outs brought him around after an error on an attempted pickoff throw at first moved him into scoring position. 1-1 after five and a half in Miami. 44th multi-hit game of the year for Escobar, second on the Nats, behind only Bryce Harper and 18th overall in the majors.

• [ed. note - "Continued below."]

1. The Wrap-Up: Kyle Barraclough took over on the mound for the Marlins in the sixth and gave up a leadoff single by Yunel Escobar (2 for 3), who took second on an error on a pick attempt at first. Escobar took third on a fly to right by Ian Desmond and scored on a sac fly to center by Wilson Ramos. 1-1.

Blake Treinen came on with runners on the corners and one out in the sixth and got an inning-ending DP with his first pitch to Marcell Ozuna. Still 1-1 after six.

Marlins' righty Bryan Morris gave up a leadoff single by Tyler Moore in the top of the seventh. Anthony Rendon hit a two-out single to center field, moving Moore into scoring position with Bryce Harper due up. Mike Dunn came out to face Harper, and struck him out with a 2-2 heater. Still 1-1.

Casey Janssen left a fastball up in the zone for J.T. Realmuto, who hit a line drive double to left to start the Marlins' half of the frame. Ichiro Suzuki popped up a bunt attempt. Janssen threw to third, but Yunel Escobar caught the ball behind the base and didn't try to tag the runner on what was not a force play. Miguel Rojas hit a line drive to right in the next at bat, and Bryce Harper made a sliding catch, but threw wide of home as Realmuto scored. 2-1 Fish after seven in Miami.

Brian Ellington retired the Nationals in order in the top of the eighth.

Felipe Rivero threw a quick, 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth inning.

A.J. Ramos came on for the save opportunity in the top of the ninth and retired the first two Nationals he faced before walking Dan Uggla with two down. Trea Turner came on to run with Jayson Werth at the plate, but Werth flew out to left to end it. Ballgame. 2-1 Marlins.

Nationals now 71-69