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Gio Gonzalez collects season-high nine Ks, but Nationals’ bullpen blows late lead in loss to Rangers...

Gio Gonzalez struck out nine of the twenty-one batters he faced in six innings of work on the mound against the Rangers on Saturday.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Dusty Baker talked before this afternoon’s game in the nation’s capital, about what the challenges were for a starter, like Washington Nationals’ left-hander Gio Gonzalez, in facing a tough American League team like the Texas Rangers, who are built with a ton of power and speed.

It’s even tougher, Baker noted, when you’re not familiar with them.

“It’s up to — the ball is in the hands of the pitcher,” Baker said. “He’s the only person that’s in every play, and so they’ve got a good lineup, the Texas Rangers have always been able to hit, and anybody in the American League, if you can’t hit then you’re not going to do very well, so the challenge is the American League, because they make their lineup such with the DH that they have offensive players, in an offensive league.”

He had faith in his starter, however.

“Gio has risen to the occasion before, so I don’t foresee anything different today.”

Gonzalez, coming off back-to-back road wins over both the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, took the mound against the Rangers in the nation’s capital and tossed three scoreless on 50 pitches, striking out five and facing the minimum the first time through the Texas’ lineup, though he gave up one hit that was erased on a caught stealing.

Delino DeShields doubled to start the top of the fourth, and stole third after a walk to Shin-Soo Choo, before scoring on a groundout to short by Adrian Beltre, 1-0.

Gonzalez limited the damage in a 23-pitch fourth inning that left him at 73 pitches overall, and he was up to eight Ks (from 17 batters) and 86 pitches after he added two strikeouts in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth.

A swinging strikeout from Rangers’ starter Martin Perez gave Gonzalez a season-high nine strikeouts from 18 batters faced, and he worked his way around a one-out single in a scoreless, 16-pitch frame that left him at 105 pitches total.

The Nationals took a 3-1 lead in the sixth, on a sac fly by Anthony Rendon and a two-run home run by Adam Lind, and Baker went to the pen in the seventh.

Gio Gonzalez's Line vs Rangers: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 105 P, 59 S, 7/0 GO/FO.

Matt Albers tossed two scoreless, striking out four, but Koda Glover took the mound in the ninth and gave up a leadoff home run by Shin-Soo Choo, a line drive single by Elvis Andrus, a walk to Adrian Beltre, and a game-tying double by Nomar Mazara that tied it up.

It went to extras and the Nationals lost when Shawn Kelley gave up a three-run home run by Rangers’ catcher Robinson Chirinos in the eleventh.

It was the eighth home run Kelley has allowed in 15 23 IP this season (4.60 HR/9).

Baker was asked if there anything he’s seeing from Kelley that would explain all the home runs he’s given up this season, after he gave up nine total in 58 IP in the first season of his 3-year/$15M deal with the Nationals.

“If I knew I’d have stopped it a long time ago,” Baker told reporters.“We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board on the whole thing.

“That was a shame, because lost in the defeat was the job that Gio did, he did an outstanding job, this team is better against right-handers than left-handers and he proved why.”