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Gio Gonzalez struggles, Nationals drop 7-1 decision to Reds in day half of doubleheader in D.C.

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Gio Gonzalez took a step back after a promising start last time out, and the Nationals dropped the first of two to be played in the nation’s capital today, 7-1 to the Reds.

Cincinnati Reds v Washington Nationals - Game One Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Gio Gonzalez took a step back just when it looked he was making progress on the mound, giving up ten hits and six earned runs in just 3 23 innings pitched, over which he threw a total of 94 pitches in what ended up being a 7-1 loss to the visiting Cincinnati Reds in the first game of today’s doubleheader in Washington, D.C.

Reds’ right-hander Anthony DeSclafani held the Nats to one run on six hits in seven innings to earn the win.

Gio vs the Reds: Gio Gonzalez earned the first of his six wins this season when he faced the Reds in Great American Ball Park back on April 1st. Going into his start against Cincinnati in the nation’s capital today, the left-hander was winless in his previous ten outings, posting a 5.94 ERA and a .283/.372/.445 line against in 50 innings over that stretch, which went back to May 28th.

Gonzalez did, however, put together a strong start the last time out before today, in a solid seven-inning outing in Miami which saw the lefty give up three hits, four walks, and one run.

“He pitched great, he really did,” Davey Martinez told reporters after what ended up a 2-1 loss to the Fish, though Gonzalez did walk the bases loaded and give up a sac fly for the one run he did allow.

“He settled back in, threw a bunch of pitches, but he gave us seven good innings, and I’m proud of Gio, he kept his composure after that inning, came back and did wonderful.”

Gonzalez got into trouble early this afternoon, erasing a leadoff single on a caught stealing, then giving up back-to-back hits and a walk that loaded the bases before a run scored on a Brandon Dixon grounder to third that was too slow for a double play, 1-0.

One and two-out singles in the second and a three-run home run by Phillip Ervin, on a 1-2 change up in the zone, made it a 4-0 game.

With the score 4-1 in the third, Brandon Dixon hit a 2-2 fastball out to the left of center field for a one-out solo shot that put the Reds up by four, 5-1.

A one-out double (by Jose Peraza), passed ball, and a walk (to Phillip Ervin) put runners on the corners for the Reds in the fourth, and a two-out RBI single by Eugenio Suarez made it 6-1 Cincinnati. That was it for Gonzalez, after 94 pitches in 3 23 IP.

Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 94 P, 59 S, 3/2 GO/FO.

DeSclafani in D.C.: After going unbeaten over six outings, (4-0), with a .239/.295/.463 line against in 35 23 IP between June 10-July 9th, Reds’ right-hander Anthony DeSclafani was winless in three starts before he faced the Nationals in the nation’s capital tonight, having given up 12 runs in 12 innings in those outings.

His season started late after the 28-year-old suffered an oblique injury in Spring Training.

Juan Soto doubled to left-center (and into the bullpen on a hop) with one out in the Nats’ half of the second this afternoon, and a single by Daniel Murphy sent Soto around to third before he scored on a Ryan Zimmerman grounder to short that was too weakly hit for the Reds to turn a double play, 4-1.

DeSclafani held the Nationals to one run on three hits through five, throwing 69 pitches.

Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper hit leadoff and two-out singles in the bottom of the sixth, but Juan Soto sent a fly to left to end an 11-pitch frame for the Reds’ right-hander, who was at just 80 pitches total after six.

DeSclafani worked around a leadoff double by Daniel Murphy in a 20-pitch seventh that left him 100 pitches overall.

Anthony DeSclafani’s Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 100 P, 66 S, 6/5 GO/FO.

#JuanPursuit: In the month of July, 19-year-old Nationals’ outfielder Juan Soto led National League rookies in AVG (.299), OBP (.398), SLG (.526), hits (29), RBIs (15), and walks (16), and he was named the NL Rookie of the Month for the second consecutive month.

Soto hit a ground-rule double to left and into the visitor’s bullpen on a hop the first time up today, lining a 2-2 slider into the gap with one down in the second inning, and he scored on a groundout, after moving to third on a Daniel Murphy single, for the Nationals’ first run.

The second time up against Reds’ righty Anthony DeSclafani, Soto singled to right on a 2-2 curve, leaving him with a .313 AVG overall on the season.

There were two runners on with two out in the sixth when Soto stepped up for the third time, but a fly to left ended the thread, 2 for 3, and he grounded out with two on in the Nationals’ eighth, 2 for 4.

BULLPEN ACTION: Wander Suero took over for Gio Gonzalez and recorded the final out of the Reds’ fourth, then came back out with a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth, but the Reds added to their lead in the sixth, with Billy Hamilton singling, stealing second base, and taking the next two bases on sac flies, 7-1.

Suero did the yeoman’s work out of the bullpen this afternoon, getting through seven and giving up just one run in a 48-pitch effort.

Jimmy Cordero got the eighth for the Nationals, and worked around a walk in an 11-pitch frame.

David Hernandez worked around a hit-by-pitch on Adam Eaton and a double by Bryce Harper (2 for 3, BB) in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Cordero came back out for the top of the ninth, and gave up back-to-back walks before recording an out. Sammy Solis came on with runners on second and third with one out.

Solis stranded both runners to keep it a six-run Reds’ lead, but a scoreless ninth by Michael Lorenzen ended the day half of today’s doubleheader.

Ballgame.

Final Score: 7-1 Reds.

Nationals now 55-54