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Gio Gonzalez stops the bleeding, leads Washington Nationals to 3-1 victory

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The Washington Nationals avoided a sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks thanks to seven strong innings from Gio Gonzalez.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After losing six of their last seven games, the Washington Nationals desperately needed a win to avoid falling over six games back in the NL East for the first time in three years. Gio Gonzalez ensured they would do no such thing, tossing seven innings of one-run baseball Sunday to salvage a victory out of Washington’s three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona lost starter Robbie Ray to an apparent oblique injury just one out into the second inning, setting the stage for the Nationals’ offense to take advantage and light up the scoreboard. Although they scraped across three runs early in the contest, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen prevented the Nationals from getting past second base at all after the third inning.

Robbie Ray’s Line: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 21 P, 15 S, 2/0 GO/FO

Both Matt Wieters and Michael Taylor hit solo homers off Arizona reliever T.J. McFarland, giving Gonzalez all the run support he’d need to put the Nationals in a position to win. He didn’t coast through the afternoon — the Diamondbacks only went down 1-2-3 once with Gonzalez on the mound — but the lefty worked his way out of several jams to limit Arizona to just one run that came on a sacrifice fly in his final frame of the game.

Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 114 P, 72 S, 8/5 GO/FO

Brandon Kintzler and Sean Doolittle each worked around leadoff hits to puts zeroes on the scoreboard for the eighth and ninth innings. Sunday marked the first save opportunity for Doolittle since April 20, bringing his total to five on the season.

Although he never scored, Trea Turner had a productive afternoon, reaching base three times and stealing his 12th base of the season. Behind him, however, the Nats’ 2-3-4 hitters combined to go just 2-for-11 with a walk. Ryan Zimmerman, hitting out of the No. 2 spot, went 0-4 with a pair of strikeouts to lower his season slash line to .191/.255/.394.

For the Diamondbacks, shortstop Nick Ahmed notched three hits and Daniel Descalso drove in the team’s only run of the ballgame as a pinch hitter in the seventh. McFarland took the loss in the game but did his team a huge favor by managing 4.2 innings to avoid taxing the bullpen too much after Ray’s injury.

The Nationals will continue their homestand with a four-game slate against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which starts tomorrow night. Tanner Roark is scheduled to take the mound against Jameson Taillon on Monday to get the series started.

Nationals now 12-16