Injuries have crippled the Washington Nationals at every facet of their roster, but the team has continued to rack up the win column.
Enter the red-hot Los Angeles Angels, who came into Tuesday’s game the winners of six straight and 10 of their last 13.
It was JMU Day at Nats Park, which isn’t relevant to anything that happened in the game, but I can’t pass on this opportunity to say go Dukes.
Tyler Skaggs got the start for the visiting club, allowing two runs in five innings of work.
He was able to keep most of the Nats’ bats quiet, but former Angel Howie Kendrick cranked two solo home runs to put Washington on the board first.
Gio Gonzalez carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and induced eight groundouts, lowering his season ERA to 2.49 and exiting the game in line for the win.
An unearned run put the Nats ahead 3-0 in the sixth, but the Angels struck back with a Cliff Pennington solo home run off Brandon Kintzler in the eighth.
Matt Albers tossed a scoreless seventh and Sean Doolittle took care of things in the ninth to hand Washington its eighth win in its past 11 games.
Not to be forgotten: Anthony Rendon had three hits, Wilmer Difo extended his hitting streak to 10 games and the Nats’ new bullpen trio still has yet to blow a lead since joining the team.
Nationals now 71-46.
Here’s how it happened:
• Both starters worked two quick scoreless innings to open the game. Gio Gonzalez held Los Angeles hitless and the Nats managed to hit a pair of doubles off Tyler Skaggs but no one crossed the plate before the third inning.
• Washington broke the tie courtesy of Howie Kendrick’s 100th career home run. The former Angel connected with the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the third and launched a solo shot to left, giving the Nats a 1-0 lead.
• Two innings later, the Nats scored another run with Kendrick tormenting the club the drafted him yet again. The left fielder hit his second homer of the game, this time over the wall in right with the count sitting at 3-0. His sixth home run of the season put the Nats ahead by two.
• Tyler Skaggs’ Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 6 Ks, 2 HR, 91 P, 58 S, 4/1 GO/FO
• Heading into the sixth inning, Gonzalez was cruising with just two walks standing alone as the sole blemishes on his pitching line. He was able to pick up two more outs before Cameron Maybin hit a chopper over the mound that just squeaked into center field for the Angels’ first base hit of the game.
Mike Trout then followed with a single of his own and a wild pitch sent the runners to second and third with two outs. Washington opted to intentionally walk Albert Pujols to bring up third baseman Jefry Marte. Marte hit a screamer right over Daniel Murphy’s head but the Nats’ infielder was able to leap up and snag the ball to preserve the shutout.
• Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 91 P, 49 S, 8/3 GO/FO
• Angels manager Mike Scioscia opted to hand the ball to Bud Norris for the bottom of the sixth. Washington scraped across an unearned run when Anthony Rendon singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored when Pujols was unable to handle a tough Matt Wieters grounder. The Nats entered the seventh inning with a 3-0 lead.
• Matt Albers got the call for the top of the seventh despite the typical hold situation that normally called for the services of Brandon Kintzler. Albers took full advantage of the opportunity, pitching a clean 1-2-3 inning.
• In the eighth, Kintzler pitched in Ryan Madson’s usual spot. Madson was apparently dealing with a blister and was held out of the game for precautionary reasons. With one out, Cliff Pennington ended the Nats’ shutout bid with a solo home run to center. Kintzler was unfazed, however, and picked up back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
• Closer Sean Doolittle handled the ninth inning with ease and the Nationals took the first of two from the Angels. First pitch on Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.