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Nationals drop 4-1 decision to Orioles: Gio Gonzalez out early in series opener

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Gio Gonzalez gave up six hits, two walks and four earned runs in 4 2/3 IP as the Baltimore Orioles took the series opener from the Washington Nationals, 4-1. Ubaldo Jimenez won the 100th game of his career tonight.

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

5. Gio vs the O's: In three September starts before tonight's in the nation's capital, 30-year-old Washington Nationals' left-hander Gio Gonzalez was (2-0) with a 1.47 ERA, nine walks (4.42 BB/9) and 26 Ks (12.76 K/9) in 18 ⅓ innings pitched, over which he'd held opposing hitters from Atlanta, Miami and Philadelphia to a combined .172/.274/.291 line.

In his last start, in a 12-2 win over the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park, Gonzalez struck out a season-high 12 batters, giving up five hits, two walks and two earned runs in seven innings.

"Good location on the fastball/changeup. Lots of curveballs early, for strikes when he needed to and then down out of the strike zone. That's the key to his success, especially against a heavy right-handed lineup." -Matt Williams on Gio Gonzalez vs the Phillies

"Good location on the fastball/changeup," Matt Williams told reporters when asked about Gonzalez's outing.

"Lots of curveballs early, for strikes when he needed to and then down out of the strike zone. That's the key to his success, especially against a heavy right-handed lineup."

That start left the lefty (11-7) on the year with a 3.83 ERA, 3.12 FIP, 62 walks (3.49 BB/9) and 153 Ks (8.61 K/9) in 160 IP, over which opposing hitters had a .266/.338/.381 line.

Tonight in D.C., Gonzalez was facing the Baltimore Orioles for the second time this season after holding them to six hits, three walks and one earned run in six innings of work in a 3-2 loss to the O's on July 10th in Camden Yards.

It was the third of three solid starts for Gonzalez, who allowed one run or less in those outings.

"More of the same," Williams said of Gonzalez's work against the Orioles.

"Lots of curveballs, didn't really have the feel for it as much so he went to the changeup a little more, but he got us into the seventh."

His second start of the season against the Nationals' mid-Atlantic rivals began with a scoreless ten-pitch first in which he worked around a two-out error by Ian Desmond (E:6, no.27).

O's backstop Caleb Joseph and Orioles' shortstop J.J. Hardy took back-to-back, one-out walks from Gonzalez in the top of the second. Joseph took third on a fly to deep right by Junior Lake and scored on a single to center by Ubaldo Jimenez and Hardy scored on single to left by Nolan Reimold. 2-0 Orioles. 23-pitch frame. 33 total after two.

Gonzalez set the Orioles down in order in a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 3rd that left him at 43 pitches.

J.J. Hardy lined an opposite field single to right field with one down in the top of the fourth and took second on a wild pitch, but Junior Lake K'd swinging over a 3-2 curveball and Ubaldo Jimenez K'd looking to end a 20-pitch fourth. 63 pitches.

Manny Machado singled to right with one down in the Orioles' fifth and scored from first on a double to left by Chris Davis in the next at bat, just avoiding a tag at home on a strong relayed throw in from Jayson Werth to Ian Desmond and on to Jose Lobaton. 3-1 Orioles.

Steve Pearce connected for the second straight double and third straight hit in the next at bat and the O's jumped out to a 4-1 lead. Gonzalez was lifted after he struck Jonathan Schoop out with his 82nd pitch.

Gio Gonzalez's Line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 82 P, 51 S, 5/4 GO/FO.

4. Ubaldo vs the Nats: Baltimore Orioles' righty Ubaldo Jimenez's start tonight in Nationals Park was the fourth of his career in the nation's capital, but his first since 2011, when he gave up five hits and one earned run in eight innings of work in which he earned a win, improving to (3-0) in Washington, D.C., with a 1.16 ERA, four walks and 18 Ks in 23 ⅓  IP, over which he's held Nationals' hitters to a .205/.250/.277 line.

In seven starts against the Nats in his ten major league seasons, the 31-year-old veteran was (5-1) against the Nats with a 2.61 ERA and a .223/.295/.309 line against in 48 ⅓ IP. He hadn't faced them since 2011, however, so he had little history with the current Nationals.

Jimenez took the mound tonight (11-9) on the year with a 4.31 ERA, a 4.06 FIP, 59 walks (3.22 BB/9), 150 Ks (8.18 K/9) and a .261/.333/.408 line against in 165 innings pitched in his second season in the Orioles' rotation.

The O's right-hander was (2-0) in three September starts before taking the mound against the Nationals, with a 4.08 ERA and a .222/.329/.302 line against in 17 ⅔ IP.

He was coming off a five-inning start against the Boston Red Sox in which he gave up six hits, three walks and four earned runs, but received no decision in what ended up a 6-5 win.

Jimenez's outing against the Nationals began with a scoreless 22-pitch first in which he worked around back-to-back, one-out walks.

Given a 2-0 lead to work with, Jimenez gave up a leadoff walk to Ian Desmond then picked him off first, and worked around a bunt single by Michael Taylor, striking out the next two batters to end a 20-pitch second. 42 total.

Anthony Rendon walked to start the Nationals' third, but was stranded at first three outs later. Another 20-pitch frame, 62 total for Jimenez, 5 Ks.

Junior Lake dropped a line drive to center off Clint Robinson's bat, turning an out into a leadoff double then took third on a grounder to the left side by Ian Desmond that was good for a single. Michael Taylor popped to short right where Jonathan Schoop made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch for out no.1, but bobbled a potential double play grounder off Jose Lobaton's bat. Robinson scored on the play. 2-1.

Desmond and Gio Gonzalez were doubled up on a 2-5-3 DP in the next AB. 11-pitch frame. 73 total.

Bryce Harper walked with two down in the Nationals' fifth, taking his franchise record 117th walk of the season, but was stranded one out later. 18-pitch frame. 91 total.

Jimenez came back out for the bottom of the sixth inning and gave up a two-out single to center by Michael Taylor, but that was all in a 19-pitch inning. 110 total.

• Ubaldo Jimenez's Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 5 Ks, 110 P, 61 S, 9/1 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: Ubaldo Jimenez was looking for the 100th win of his career when he took the mound tonight.

• The Nationals took two of three from the Orioles in OPACY earlier this season, but Baltimore currently leads the all-time series between the regional "rivals" 36-32 though they've won just 13 of 31 in the nation's capital.

• O's second baseman Jonathan Schoop had a 12-game hitting streak end in an 0 for 4 game on Sunday. He was 16 for 49 (.327 AVG) over the course of his hit-streak with three home runs over that stretch.

• The Orioles started the three-game set in D.C. ranked fourth in the majors with 200 home runs on the year. They led the majors with the fewest errors committed (65) and the highest fielding percentage as a team (.988).

• In tonight's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment/update: Washington's offense ranks first in the majors in walks (149) and OBP (.368), second in runs scored (193) and third in AVG (.289) and SLG (.476) in 32 games dating back to August 18th.

• In a bonus "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Yunel Escobar has put up a .426/.509/.511 line with five doubles, a home run 15 walks and 21 runs scored in 25 games going back to August 18th.

• Jayson Werth started the night with a 29-game on-base streak going back to August 21st. Over the course of his streak, Werth has put up a .298/.403/.588 line with nine doubles, eight home runs, 19 walks and 23 runs scored.

• Bryce Harper started tonight's game ranked first in the NL in AVG (.343), OBP (470), SLG (.674), run scored (116), home runs (41) and Wins Above Replacement (9.6 fWAR).

2. Turning Point(s): Coming into tonight's start against the Orioles, Gio Gonzalez's walks per nine were up from 3.18 BB/9 in 2014 to 3.49 BB/9 this season, and in spite of his high strikeout totals in his three September starts, 26 in 18 1/3 (12.76 K/9), he'd also walked nine batters in those outings (4.42 BB/9). And it was back-to-back, one-out walks in the Orioles' second that led to the first two runs of the game scoring when both runners came in on RBI singles later in the inning to put Baltimore up 2-0 early in the series opener in Washington, D.C.

• A drop on a catchable liner to center and a bobbled ball on a potential double play grounder allowed the Nationals' first run to score in the fourth, as Junior Lake dropped a fly off Clint Robinson's bat and Robinson eventually scored when Jonathan Schoop bobbled a grounder to second off Jose Lobaton's bat with Robinson on third.

• The Orioles struck right back in the top of the fifth, however, with Manny Machado singling with one down (for his 500th major league hit) and scoring on a double to left by Chris Davis, sliding in around a tag attempt by Jose Lobaton and slapping the plate as he did. 3-1 Orioles. An RBI double by Steven Pearce in the next at bat made it 4-1 O's.

1. The Wrap-Up: Doug Fister took over on the mound with a runner on second and two out in the Orioles' 5th, and struck Caleb Joseph out to end the frame. 4-1 Orioles.

Fister came back out for the sixth, and retired the O's in order in an 11-pitch frame.

With the score still 4-1 in the seventh, Fister retired the first two batters he faced before handing the ball to Matt Thornton vs Chris Davis. A groundout to second ended the frame. Still 4-1 Orioles.

Brad Brach took over for the Orioles in the bottom of the seventh and retired the side in order.

Casey Janssen retired the O's in order in an 11-pitch eighth.

Brach issued a leadoff walk to Bryce Harper in his second inning of work in the eighth, but Ian Desmond K'd swinging to strand the runner.

Blake Treinen worked a scoreless top of the ninth to keep it a three-run game.

Darren O'Day came on for the save opportunity...

Michael Taylor sent a fly to right in the first at bat that Steve Pearce dropped. Jose Lobaton K'd swinging through a high fastball for out no.1. Tyler Moore popped out to the infield. Anthony Rendon? Backwards K. Ballgame.

Nationals now 78-72