After a pitiful offensive showing in the three game sweep by the St. Louis Cardinals, the Nationals showed all the makings of a championship caliber team on Thursday night. Led by a sterling start by lefty Gio Gonzalez(2-1) and offensive outbursts by second baseman Danny Espinosa and left fielder Bryce Harper, the Nationals were able to end their four game losing streak and win the series opener.
Gio Gonzalez was in complete control all game long. In his eight outstanding innings he gave up just three baserunners(one hit and two walks), while striking out 7 and throwing 112 pitches. If not for a fourth inning home run by Joey Votto, that just snuck over the left field wall, Gonzalez may have had a no-hitter. After eight strong innings from Gio, Rafael Soriano threw a 1-2-3 ninth to finish the victory for the Nats.
The offense spurted to life after being held to just 3 runs in the 3 game series against the Cardinals. Bryce Harper reached base three times, including a 3rd inning solo homer off of Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. The home run was Harper’s 8th homer of the season, putting him second in the NL in that category behind Braves outfielder Justin Upton. Danny Espinosa celebrated his 26th birthday with a home run and three RBI. Denard Span broke out of his recent slump with a three hit game that included a 2-run triple in the 8th inning. The offensive outburst came at the expense of Arroyo, who gave up 6 runs over 6 innings to even his record at 2-2.