Sep 9, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) is congratulated by catcher Wilson Ramos (40) after recording the final out against the New York Mets during the ninth inning of a game at Citi Field. Gonzalez pitched a complete game one hitter in the 9-0 win. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals Pull To 7 Games Back Behind Gio's One Hitter

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Entering Monday night’s game against the New York Mets, the Nationals needed to win.  They ended up getting a win and more, as five home runs lead to a 9-0 victory and the Chicago Cubs knocked off the Cincinnati Reds 2-0 to bring the Nats to seven games back in the National League Wild Card chase.  The Nationals badly need to end the season on a hot streak to even have thoughts of the playoffs, and Gio Gonzalez ensured the team would start the final twenty games on a high note, throwing a complete game one hit shutout in what could be considered the most dominant start of his five year major league career.

No word better describes Gio’s start than masterful.  After the offense gave him a quick lead to work with, Gio dominated on tthe mound, throwing a no-hitter through the first six innings.  The only hitter that had reached through six was Daniel Murphy, who walked with one out in the first inning.  In the seventh inning, Zach Lutz broke up the no-no with a looping line-drive past a diving Adam LaRoche down the right field line.  The ball landed on the chalk, showing just how dominant Gio was.  Had that ball landed just a few inches to the right, Gonzalez would have thrown baseball history.  But it did land fair, and it would remain the only hit Gonzalez would give up as he finished the next three innings without difficulty, inducing a flyout from Andrew Brown to close the ninth inning and give the Nats win number 74.

After a 21 win season in 2012, 2013 had been much harsher for Gio Gonzalez.  While he has pitched nearly as well as he did a year ago, he hasnt had anything remotely close to the run support he had a year ago.  Gio had no reason to worry about getting a win Monday night, as the offense broke out and tried it’s hand at a September version of the home run derby held this year in Queens.  The Nationals got to Mets starter Carlos Torres very quickly, as Denard Span led off the game with his fourth homer of the year and Ryan Zimmerman went back to back for his 21st of 2013.    Torres would hold the deficit to two until the third inning, when Span and Zimmerman would both score again, this time on a three run bomb by Jayson Werth, the right fielder’s 22nd of the year.  Another home run would come off the bat of Tyler Moore in the fourth to extend the lead to 6-0, and Wilson Ramos would eventually put the icing on the cake with a three run jack in the fifth to cap off the scoring.  The five home runs matched a season high, and the offense appears to be coming back to 2012 levels at an opportune time.

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