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Washington Nationals drop 11-5 decision to Detroit Tigers: Gio Gonzalez, defense not sharp

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Gio Gonzalez threw 60 pitches in 2 2/3 innings in his second outing of the Spring and the Detroit Tigers bashed their way to an 11-5 win over the Washington Nationals in Grapefruit League action from Lakeland, Florida's Joker Marchant Stadium.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Gio Gonzalez tossed two scoreless against the Miami Marlins in his first Grapefruit League start of the season last week, and talked afterwards about the outing, some things that went well and others that didn't.

"It definitely was a little more of an adrenaline rush kind of like getting out there... and you've still got the butterflies," Gonzalez told reporters.

"It's great, you've still got the excitement to go out there and throw the first pitch, but they had their A-lineup out there."

"No more looking down, looking away, it was more like just pick up the target now. So it was a little different for me..." -Gio Gonzalez on reworked mechanics of his delivery this Spring

"I was trying to make that adjustment, trying to keep the ball down. [Pitching Coach] Mike [Maddux] had a great point where it's not just picking up the sign and going, it's registering the sign and take your time, alright, now execute your pitch," Gonzalez said.

"But there's a lot of things that I can learn from today's start and it just took two innings to do it. That's a good start right off the bat. I like what happened today. Little mistakes, you know, 0-2, got to execute a pitch, guy got a hit off that, then 1-0, guy knocks it to right field, that's something I learn to pick up and pound the strike zone a little bit more, and be more aggressive in the strike zone."

Gonzalez said earlier this winter that he wanted to concentrate on getting back to challenging hitters, being aggressive in the strike zone and going deeper into his outings than he did last season.

He fell behind the first hitter he faced this afternoon, and gave up a solo home run to left-center field by Ian Kinsler that put the Tigers up 1-0 early then walked Justin Upton in the next at bat, putting a runner on in front of Miguel Cabrera...

Upton stole second on Gonzalez and Nats' catcher Spencer Kieboom, and scored on an RBI single by Victor Martinez that put the Tigers up 2-0 in the first.

A two-out walk to Jarrod Saltalamacchia earned Gonzalez a visit from Maddux, but he struck Mike Aviles out to end the first.

Gonzalez retired the Tigers in order in a quick second inning of work. He issued a leadoff walk in the Tigers' third, but got a 6-4-3 double play grounder out of Miguel Cabrera. An error and a two-out walk ended his outing...

Gio Gonzalez's Line: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 60 P, 28 S.

GAME NOTES:

• Spencer Kieboom got the start this afternoon, in a game that featured a number of regulars even though it was a road game in Spring Training.

Dusty Baker praised the 24-year-old's pitch selection when he worked with Sammy Solis last week, saying, "He takes charge of the game, I like him back there."

Kieboom spent the year at High-A Potomac last season, putting up a .248/.344/.346 line in 71 games and 285 PAs.

He was added to the 40-Man roster this winter to protect him from selection in the Rule 5 Draft.

Today in Lakeland, FL's Joker Marchant Stadium, the 2012 Nats' fifth round pick went 0 for 1 with a walk and a run scored before he was replaced behind the plate in the sixth.

• Ben Revere doubled to right off Justin Verlander in the top of the third, leaving him 4 for 9 early this Spring... to that point.

• Nick Masset took over for Gio Gonzalez with two on and two out in the third and gave up a three-run home to the first batter he faced, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. 5-0 Tigers.

• Things got ugly for the Nationals in the third. Gio Gonzalez issued his second and third walks and threw wild pitch and the Nats committed three errors, two by Danny Espinosa (one fielding and one on a missed catch on a stolen base) and one throwing error by Anthony Rendon as the Tigers jumped out to a 6-0 lead.

• Miguel Cabrera took Masset deep in fourth for a solo blast that made it 7-0 Detroit.

• Daniel Murphy doubled in two runs in the fifth and Tyler Moore hit a solo blast in the seventh to get the Nationals within four runs.

• Sammy Solis gave up a three-run blast by Nate Schierholtz in the Tigers' half of the seventh before Scott Sizemore hit HR no.3 of the Spring to make it 10-4 in the eighth.

• Trea Turner drove in a run with an RBI groundout in the top of the eighth, 10-5, but Tyler Collins took a fastball from Lucas Giolito to deep center field in the bottom of the inning to make it 11-5 Tigers.

Giolito gave up a double to the next batter he faced, but struck out the three that followed and the Nats came up empty in the ninth, 11-5 final.