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Gio Gonzalez’s inconsistent campaign continues in Nationals’ 6-4 loss to the Cardinals...

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Gio Gonzalez put the Nationals in an early hole they couldn’t climb out of in what ended up a 6-4 loss to the Cardinals.

Washington Nationals v St Louis Cardinals
Whatever you do, don’t look closely at Gio Gonzalez’s elbow in this picture.
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

A start after he gave up 10 hits and six runs, five earned, in 3 23 innings pitched against the Cincinnati Reds, Gio Gonzalez tossed seven strong against the Atlanta Braves last time out before Tuesday night, allowing just one run on six hits in what ended up being a 6-3 win for the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital.

“He was just pounding the strike zone, like what we always talk about,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the win. “He threw all his pitches, but he kept consistent.”

“He doesn’t get many hard-hit balls,” Martinez added. “He really doesn’t and he keeps the ball on the ground for the most part. Hopefully we found something on him and he keeps going.”

Gonzalez and the Nationals fell behind 3-0 early in the second of four with the Cardinals in St. Louis, with Paul DeJong, who’d walked off on the Nationals on Monday night, doubling and scoring on a sac fly in the second. After a walk to Kolten Wong, a two-run blast to left by the opposing pitcher, John Gant, (who was 0 for 30 at the plate in his career before he hit a 1-1 fastball out), made it a three-run lead for the home team.

MLB: Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Back-to-back walks and a two-run double by Kolten Wong in the fourth made it 5-0 Cards.

Gonzalez was up to 74 pitches after four, and Martinez hit for him in the top of the fifth after the Nationals scored a run and put a runner on...

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.

Martinez’s squad battled back, getting within two at 6-4 in the ninth and they brought the potential tying run to the plate before the Cardinals locked down the win.

“It was a rough outing,” the Nats’ skipper said when asked about Gonzalez’s outing.

“He gave up five runs early, so you know, we had to try to keep the game close there, and we did. Our offense is doing well.

“We’re going to hit, like I said, and we keep the games close, anything can happen.”

“Unfortunately, I’m not doing my part as one of the starting pitchers,” Gonzalez said, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.

“It’s tough to say, but this game was determined on a home run from a person you didn’t expect to hit a home run.”

“He just made a bad pitch,” Martinez said of the 1-1 fastball Gant hit out.

“He tried to throw the ball away and the ball ran in. He pretty much threw it in his barrel. It was just unfortunate, but in that situation you’ve got to get outs. He’s got to get outs. He knows that.”

“He keeps us in the game we’ve got a good opportunity, but when you’re down four or five runs early, it’s tough. It puts a lot of stress on the offense. But we didn’t quit.

“We had a chance to tie the game and even win it in the last inning there. I’m proud of the guys, they’re not going to quit.

“I’ve said that before, our offense is good right now, our starting pitching keeps us in the game and we’ll be in good shape.”

As for his thoughts on Gonzalez’s up and down campaign, which has seen him go unbeaten over eight starts between late April and early June (2.44 ERA, .216/.293/.335 line against in 48 innings), while also going through an 11-start winless streak that stretched from early May to early August (6.37 ERA, .303/.388/.483 line against in 53 23 IP), Martinez said it’s all about the left-hander throwing strikes.

“The biggest thing with him is working ahead and throwing strikes,” Martinez said. “His last outing he didn’t walk anybody. Today he walked a couple guys, and he couldn’t get the ball in. He knows he’s gotta pitch in, and for the most part he couldn’t get the ball in there.”

Gonzalez actually walked one batter in his start against the Braves, but stranded him an out later. All three of the batters he walked on Tuesday night ended up scoring.