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Washington Nationals 1, Chicago White Sox 3: Gio's shaky first costs Nats in low-offense game

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The Washington Nationals and Chicago White Sox managed just five hits apiece and the Sox did a little more damage with theirs -- taking advantage of a shaky Gio Gonzalez in the first inning -- to salvage the finale of the three-game set 3-1 at U.S. Cellular Field.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals entered the final game of a nine-game road trip with a chance to record their second sweep of the trip, which pitted lefty Gio Gonzalez against the Chicago White Sox' Miguel Gonzalez, in the first ever matchup in MLB between two starting pitchers with the surname Gonzalez.

The teams managed just five hits apiece and the White Sox did a little more damage with theirs -- taking advantage of a shaky Gio Gonzalez in the first inning -- to salvage the finale of the three-game set 3-1 at U.S. Cellular Field.

With the loss, the Nats' record stands at 36-23.

The White Sox' Gonzalez got through the first unscathed, but the Nats' version did not. Gio Gonzalez got leadoff hitter Adam Eaton to bounce out, but then walked Austin Jackson and Jose Abreu after he had them both down 0-2. Cleanup hitter Todd Frazier lined out to Michael Taylor on a great catch by the young centerfielder, and Taylor almost nailed Jackson straying from second, but Daniel Murphy couldn't handle the one-hopped throw.

That hurt, as Melky Cabrera followed with a double to right, which plated both runners, and Brett Lawrie doubled to left to score Cabrera to make it 3-0 after the first inning, with Gonzalez making 28 pitches in the first frame.

Meanwhile, Miguel Gonzalez was mowing 'em down. He retired the first 12 Nationals' batters, striking out five in the process.

The 13th Nats' batter, though, was Daniel Murphy, who clobbered and up and in fastball just over the wall and out of reach of the right fielder Eaton for his 11th home run of the season to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Gio Gonzalez settled down after the back-to-back doubles and retired 11 in a row until Tyler Saldino's one-out single in the fifth. Eaton followed with a looping single and Gonzalez found himself in hot water again. But Jackson lined out to second and Gio got Abreu to chase a curveball for his sixth strikeout of the game.

In the sixth, Jose Lobaton led off with a single and moved to third on Michael Taylor's single, and Taylor moved up to second on the throw to third, which Lobaton barely beat -- and upheld by review.

Unfortunately, Chris Heisey grounded to short and threw out Lobaton at the plate trying to score, with Heisey reaching, and Jayson Werth then grounded into a inning-ending double play to end the threat.

In the bottom half, Todd Frazier struck out, then Cabrera doubled. But Gio came back to get both Lawrie and Avasail Garcia on strikes to get out of the jam. Gonzalez picked up another K in the seventh, and Danny Espinosa made the defensive play of the game, diving to his left on a hard grounder and making the good, hard throw to first for the final out of the inning.

After the rough start, Gio turned in a very good performance. In seven innings he allowed three earned runs on five hits and two walks, striking out 10 -- the first time this season he's recorded double-digit strikeouts.

Espinosa then in the eighth sent one to the wall, but Eaton was able to make a jumping grab on his drive to rob him of extra bases.

Then in the ninth, the Nats put two on via base hits by Werth and Harper, but Daniel Murphy's liner was tracked down by Jackson in center to end it.

WP: M. Gonzalez (1-1) LP: G. Gonzalez (3-5) SV: Robertson (14) HR: Murphy (11) E: None.

NEXT GAME: Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Stephen Strasburg (9-0, 2.85) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.80).

NATS NOTES

  • The Nationals continued their recent offensive onslaught with an 11-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night on the South Side.
  • The victory, which featured at least one hit from every batter in the lineup, an RBI from seven of the nine, a run from eight of the nine, and home runs from 1B Ryan Zimmerman, 2B Stephen Drew, SS Danny Espinosa and LF Jayson Werth, sealed the Nationals’ 11th series win of the season, their eighth on the road.
  • Coupled with their 10-run outbursts on Tuesday at CWS & Sunday at CIN, the 2016 Nationals are now just the second team in club history (2005-present) to post 10 or more runs in three straight games (also June 26-28, 2012 at COL).
  • The Nationals had four batters with three-hit nights on Wednesday (CF Ben Revere, Werth, RF Bryce Harper, and Espinosa). It was just the fifth time in Nationals history (2005-present) the team had four or more players with three or more hits.
  • With the series win over the White Sox assured on Wednesday, the Nationals improved to 9-2 (.818) this season in Interleague play and have yet to drop a series to an American League team.
  • Among teams that have played at least two series against the opposite league, Washington has the best record in the National League, and the second-best record in the majors behind only the Seattle Mariners (6-1, .857).
  • The Nationals will conclude their current three-city, nine-game, 11-day trek Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field and head home to open a six-game homestand on Friday evening.
  • Their return to the friendly confines of Nationals Park will be brief, however, as Washington will head back out on the road for another 11-day jaunt starting June 16 in San Diego.
  • At 36-23 (.610), the Nationals are tied with the Texas Rangers for the second-best record in Major League Baseball. The Chicago Cubs pace MLB (41-17, .707).
  • The Nationals have played to a 21-12 (.636) record on the road thus far this season, which is also the second-best mark in MLB, behind only the Cubs (19-9, .679).