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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats drop 6th straight; rough second hurts for MacKenzie Gore in 6-4 loss...

MacKenzie Gore gave up two, two-run home runs in a 39-pitch second which was the difference in a second-straight loss to the Braves...

“He likes things to go well all the time,” Davey Martinez told reporters of MacKenzie Gore’s demeanor on the mound, and approach to his job, as a key part of the Washington’s 2023 rotation and the Nationals’ future.

“And I tell him, in this game, just get to the next pitch, when you’re a pitcher just try to get to that next pitch.”

Overall this season, however, Martinez said, he has been pleased with what he’s seen from Gore, who went into Saturday’s outing winless in his last seven starts, over which the 24-year-old southpaw had put up a 4.14 ERA, a 4.29 FIP, 12 walks, 45 Ks, and a .295/.346/.503 line against in 37 IP.

“He’s going to be really, really good,” the sixth-year manager said of the development Gore has ahead of him in his career. “We’re teaching him different things about how to handle certain situations, high-leverage situations. He’s very um — he’s very adamant. He gets down on himself really fast at times, so we’re trying to teach him to stay in the moment. We had the same issue with Josiah [Gray] last year, where they’re very competitive, they want to do everything right, they want to be perfect, and sometimes in this game perfection is hard.

“But he’s talented. He’s got four unbelievable pitches. His stuff is electric. So I love having him here.”

Gore retired the final 10 batters he faced Saturday afternoon ... after struggling through a long, 39-pitch second in which he gave up two two-run home runs, one by Marcell Ozuna on a 2-1 fastball low and in which went 426 feet to left-center, (after a leadoff walk), and a two-out, two-run shot by Ronald Acuña, Jr., who hit a 3-2 curve up in the zone away out to right field on a line to put the Braves up 5-1 in what ended up a 6-4 win for Atlanta.

In five innings of work, Gore, who gave up a run in the first as well, allowed four hits, a walk, and the five earned runs, striking out three in an 82-pitch outing in Truist Park.

“We had just one bad inning again, right?” Martinez said in assessing Gore’s 13th start this season.

“But what I loved was the fact that MacKenzie came back out there and retired 10 in a row with 30 pitches.* I mean that’s kind of what we’re looking for. If we can keep him right there, it’s good. And all it was was really a conversation about being on the offensive, not afraid of throwing strikes, get ahead of hitters. And he did that, and was really, really good. So I was proud of him for doing that.”

[ed. note - “Gore needed 39 pitches to retire the 10-straight Braves’ hitters, including the final out of the second inning.”]

“He fell behind, on pretty good hitters, right?” Martinez said. “Then all of a sudden when he worked ahead he was really good.”

How was Gore able to turn things around and keep the opposition in check after the rough second?

“Just did a better job of executing,” Gore said, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco.

“The homers were just not great pitches and in spots those guys like to hit. So I have to be better. I keep saying that, but I just got to be a little better.

“Yeah, we finished strong and on to the next one. But understanding that I gotta do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark.”

“Just a bad inning,” Gore added.

“I made some bad pitches. Got some good counts and like I said threw some bad pitches. And like I said after the last one, I gotta do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark.

“I didn’t do that today. So just not very good. Yeah, we were able to get through five, but it’s tough to win when they score five that early.”

His manager said when Gore started to pound the zone, and enjoy success, he provided an example of what he can do when he’s going right, but his early struggles resulted in a short outing.

“When he pounds the strike zone, his stuff is electric, it really is,” Martinez said. “We got to keep him in the strike zone. He’s not a guy that’s going to nitpick the corners or anything, just attack the hitters, make his pitches. His stuff is good. So like I said, I was very proud that he came back and gave us three more strong innings the way he did. He wanted to stay in the game, but he had a 40-pitch inning, and I thought that was enough. I wanted to leave him with a good taste in his mouth.”