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Washington Nationals drop fourth straight in 3-2 loss to New York Mets: Davey Martinez on Gio Gonzalez, Brandon Kintzler + more...

“One big hit here or there and next thing you know we explode.” - Davey Martinez on the Nationals’ fourth straight loss

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Gio Gonzalez went six innings on 91 pitches in his 2018 debut last week in Cincinnati, giving up five hits, a walk, and one earned run in what ended up a 6-5 win over the Reds. Talking to reporters after the outing, the 32-year-old left-hander said he felt better on the mound than he had all Spring.

“It’s the first time I felt pretty good with all of my pitches today,” Gonzalez explained.

“I wasn’t feeling like that in Spring Training, and then when it started, everything felt — getting on top of pitches, and working great.”

“He got up there in his pitch count, and he pitched really, really well,” Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said.

“That’s what we wanted to see out of him. He was attacking the strike zone, going after everybody, so it was good.”

Coming off a (15-9) season in 2017, in which he put up a 2.96 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 79 walks (3.54 BB/9), 188 Ks (8.42 K/9), and a .213/.298/.345 line against over 32 starts and 201 IP, the left-hander took on the New York Mets on Saturday afternoon, trying to help the Nats avoid a fourth straight loss.

Gonzalez worked into and out of trouble over five scoreless innings, holding the Mets off the board and striking out six on 80 pitches, but he ran into trouble in the sixth, when Todd Frazier and Travis d’Arnaud connected for back-to-back hits with NY’s catcher driving in a game-tying run, 1-1. That was it for the lefty, who ended up at 92 pitches after 5 13 innings pitched.

Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 92 P, 54 S, 5/3 GO/FO.

“You know what, he was good,” Martinez said after what ended up a 3-2 loss in which he was ejected, leaving bench coach Chip Hale in charge.

“The sixth inning he left a couple balls up, his pitch count was up there a little bit. I know it’s a little cold. I think Chip did a good job monitoring all that stuff and getting the guys in there and getting them out.”

Once Gonzalez was done for the day, Bryce Harper homered in the bottom of the sixth to put the Nationals back on top, 2-1, but Brandon Kintzler came on in the top of the seventh and surrendered back-to-back hits, a single by Amed Rosario on a line drive to center and an RBI double to right by Asdrubal Cabrera that tied it up at 2-2.

Cabrera took third on a groundout (by Yoenis Cespedes) and scored on another (by Todd Frazier) to put the Mets ahead for good, 3-2.

For Kintzler, it was a second straight rough outing. He’s now allowed four hits, three walks, and six earned runs in his last two innings of work.

Martinez, who was watching from his office at that point, after he was ejected in the third inning for backing up Anthony Rendon on what he thought was an unwarranted ejection of the infielder, said he has faith in Kintzler, in spite of a rough start to the 2018 campaign.

“I’ve got all the faith in the world in Kintzler. I really do,” Martinez said. “He made some pretty good pitches. They got a couple hits. He jammed Rosario, the ball went up the middle, he made a really great pitch to [Frazier] that scored the go-ahead run, but he’s going to be fine. We’re going to run him out there, and he’s going to pitch, he’s going to pitch in high-leverage situations, because he’s good.”

Saturday’s loss was the Nationals’ fourth straight after they started the season 4-0.

Martinez said he wasn’t too concerned, and if a few things bounced their way, things could be different.

“We played aggressive,” he explained. “I saw some really good baseball. We ran the bases well, stole some bases, Harp hustling down the first base line, all that stuff matters, and I preach all the time about doing the little things, and this will turn around.

“One big hit here or there and next thing you know we explode. I’m proud of our team.

“They’re playing to the last out, and that’s all you can ask.”