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Washington Nationals drop series opener to Cincinnati Reds, 7-2: Gio Gonzalez struggles again

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When Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez was done for the night in Cincinnati, he'd allowed nine hits and five earned runs in six innings, leaving him with 25 hits and 18 runs allowed in his last 15 2/3 innings pitched. 7-2 Reds.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

In back-to-back losses in his last two starts, Gio Gonzalez gave up 16 hits and 13 runs, all earned, in just 9 ⅔ innings, over which opposing hitters put up a .372/.429/.721 line.

The 13 earned runs, were just one less than the left-hander allowed in his previous 48 ⅓ IP over his first eight starts this season.

"The start before this, it was location," Nationals' manager Dusty Baker told reporters, including Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes after the last outing. "Then what hurt this time were the walks."

Gonzalez gave up four walks in Washington's loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in that game in the nation's capital.

Tonight, the 30-year-old southpaw was in Cincinnati, Ohio's Great American Ball Park, where he was taking on the Reds in the series opener of the three-game weekend set.

He fell behind early in a six-hit, four-run, 31-pitch second, and took the loss in what ended up a 7-2 Cincy win.

Reds' outfielder Adam Duvall lined a 3-2 change to left for a leadoff double in the bottom of the second and scored on an RBI single to center by Eugenio Suarez for a 1-0 lead.

Back-to-back singles by Billy Hamilton and catcher Ramon Cabrera loaded the bases with no one out, and one out later, Reds' shortstop Zack Cozart hit a one-hope liner through second to bring Suarez in and make it 2-0.

Brandon Phillips followed with a two-out, two-run single to center for a 4-0 Reds' lead after two.

Eugenio Suarez hit a 2-0 two-seamer from Gonzalez out to left for a one-out solo homer in the third, 5-0.

Gonzalez settled in after that, retiring eight straight and striking out five of the eight, but the damage was done.

Reds' lefty Brandon Finnegan, who was winless in his last eight starts before tonight (0-4), with Cincinnati 0-8 in those outings, held the Nationals off the board through six before Jayson Werth hit a one-out solo home run to right in the top of the seventh to break up the Cincy southpaw's shutout bid. Werth's 9th. 5-1 Reds.

Brandon Finnegan's Line: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB,  Ks, 1 HR, 110 P, 68 S, 9/2 GO/FO.

Gio Gonzalez's Line: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 100 P, 62 S, 5/2 GO/FO.

Yusmeiro Petit took over in the Reds' seventh and surrendered a solo home run by Zack Cozart on his second pitch of the night. 6-1 Cincinnati.

Wilson Ramos doubled off Reds' reliever Blake wood to start the eighth, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Ben Revere, 6-2.

Trea Turner was 3 for 3 with a walk in his 2016 debut after an infield single later in the top of the eighth, but he was stranded.

Adam Duvall hit the second home run of the night off Petit in the eighth to make it 7-2 Reds. That's how it ended.

Nationals now 33-22

NATS NOTES:

  • Washington has the second-best record in the majors heading into the three-game set in Cincinnati at 33-21, behind only the Chicago Cubs (37-15).
  • The Reds started the weekend set with a 39-33 advantage in the all-time series with the Nationals after going 5-1 vs Washington last season, winning five straight before dropping the finale of the season series.
  • Before tonight, Cincinnati had won 4 of the last 5 against Washington in Great American Ball Park, sweeping the three-game set in GABP last season.
  • Washington recalled Trea Turner for tonight's game after placing Nationals' first baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the Paternity List.
  • Turner, who debuted in the majors last season was No. 9 on Baseball America's list of the top prospects in baseball heading into this season.
  • Before he was called up, Turner, 22, led the Triple-A International League in runs scored (38), stolen bases (17) and was second in hits (61) and fifth in batting average (.310).
  • Daniel Murphy started the series in Cincinnati with a major league leading 26 multi-hit games, the highest batting average in the majors (.397) and the most hits in the majors (77).
  • Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos starter the weekend with the highest average (.338), on-base (.383) and slugging percentage (.536) among qualified catchers in the majors.
  • In today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Nats' relievers, as a group, have put up an MLB-best 1.58 ERA... in 22 games since May 9th.
  • In today's Reds-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment, Cincinnati's relievers posted a 7.48 ERA... on the just-completed 10-game road trip, allowing 23 ER in 27 ⅔ IP.

Nationals now 33-22