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Washington Nationals drop third straight, 6-4 to St. Louis Cardinals... fall 8.0 games back in NL East

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Gio Gonzalez struggled again and gave the Nationals just four innings over which he gave up five runs in what ended up a 6-4 loss to the Cardinals.

Washington Nationals v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Gio Gonzalez’s up and down 2018 campaign took another downturn tonight as he gave up five hits, three walks, and five runs in four innings before he was replaced on the mound in what ended up a 6-4 loss for the Washington Nationals in the second of four with St. Louis.

Cardinals’ starter John Gant gave up one run in 5 13 innings of work on the mound in Busch Stadium, and hit a two-run home run off of Gonzalez for his first major league hit.

Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer and Daniel Murphy drove in a run in the eighth, but the comeback attempt fell short.

Gonzalez vs St. Louis: Gio Gonzalez snapped an 11-start winless streak (over which he’d put up a 6.37 ERA and a .303/.388/.483 line against in 53 23 IP) with a seven-inning outing in the nation’s capital against the Atlanta Braves in which he gave up just six hits and one run, on a solo home run. Pitcher wins aren’t a great way to measure success, of course, but earning a “W” for the first time since May 28th was a nice step for the Nationals’ left-hander.

“Hopefully we found something on him and he keeps going,” Davey Martinez told reporters after Washington’s 6-3 win over the Nats’ NL East rivals.

Tonight in St. Louis, MO’s Busch Stadium, Gonzalez fell behind early, with Paul DeJong, who walked off on the Nationals last night, doubling to start the second, moving up on a ground ball out, and scoring on a sac fly to left by Harrison Bader, 1-0 Cardinals.

A walk to Kolten Wong in the next at bat made the home run by John Gant that followed even worse, 3-0.

Gant’s blast was his first hit, after he’d gone 0 for 30 at the plate in the majors before tonight.

And it was the first HR by a pitcher off Gonzalez in his own career according to MLB.com’s Andrew Simon:

Gonzalez issued his second and third walks of the game to the first two batters in the Cards’ fourth, and a two-run double by Kolten Wong followed that put the Nationals behind, 5-0.

Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 78 P, 45 S, 3/4 GO/FO

Gant vs the Gnats: After a four-game, (three-start), winless streak over which he put up a 6.28 ERA and a .328/.397/.552 line against in 14 13 IP, Cardinals’ righty John Gant went six strong against the Miami Marlins last time out before tonight, giving up just two hits and one earned run in a 7-1 win for St. Louis.

Gant, a 21st Round pick by the New York Mets in 2011, who was traded to the Atlanta Braves and acquired by the Cards in the Jaime Garcia deal in 2016, took the mound tonight (3-3) over seven games (five starts) and 33 13 IP in Busch Stadium this season, in which he’d held hitters to a .162/.261/.308 line while posting a 3.51 ERA (as opposed to his 1-1 record, 4.25 ERA, and a .248/.319/.355 line against in 36 IP outside of St. Louis).

After Paul DeJong doubled and scored, the Cards’ right-hander connected for his first hit in 30 major league at bats, sending a two-run blast out to left in the home-half of the second, and he completed three scoreless on 44 pitches.

Gant tossed a scoreless fourth as well, but Juan Soto punched a leadoff double to left in the top of the fifth, took third on a fly to center field, and scored on a two-out, two-strike RBI hit by Matt Wieters, 5-1.

Gant got the first out of the sixth before he was replaced on the mound...

John Gant’s Line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 89 P, 62 S, 3/3 GO/FO.

So-Soto: Juan Soto was just 2 for 11 with two walks and four Ks in the Nationals’ three-game series with the Cubs in Chicago’s Wrigley Field, but he homered last night in the first of four in St. Louis, avoiding what would have been his first streak of more than two games without a hit, and he doubled in his second at bat tonight, before scoring on a two-out RBI single by Matt Wieters that made it 5-1 Cardinals after four and a half.

BULLPEN ACTION: Trevor Gott took over for Gio Gonzalez in the bottom of the fifth, after he was called back up from Triple-A this afternoon. He worked around a single and a walk, throwing 23 pitches total in the fifth.

Chasen Shreve took over on the mound for the Cards with one out in the top of the fifth and Bryce Harper up, in a lefty vs lefty matchup, and struck his College of Southern teammate out before popping Anthony Rendon up to end the frame. Still 5-1 Cardinals. Shreve tossed a scoreless seventh as well.

Greg Holland took over for the Cardinals in the bottom of the seventh, and tossed a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.

Mike Mayers gave up Bryce Harper’s 30th homer of the season on a 99 mph 2-2 fastball that Harper powered out all the way the other way for an opposite field two-run blast, 6-3 Cards.

A two-out double by Anthony Rendon ended Mayers’ night...

Dakota Hudson walked Juan Soto to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Daniel Murphy, who lined an RBI single through the right side, 6-4, but Matt Adams K’d looking with runners on the corners to end the threat.

Tim Collins tossed a scoreless eighth in his return to the majors.

Jordan Hicks got the ninth for the Cards and worked around a two-out hit-by-pitch on Adam Eaton for a scoreless frame.

Ballgame.

Final Score: 6-4 Cardinals

Nationals now 60-60