Aug 10, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) delivers a pitch to an Atlanta Braves batter in the first inning of their game at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Gio Takes the Mound as Nationals Go for Fifth Straight Win

Last night’s game almost got away from closer Rafael Soriano and the Nationals, but Washington managed to edge the Pirates for their fourth win in a row. Tonight, the Nationals look to extend that streak to five games and earn a series win against the Bucs behind left-hander Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 4.00 ERA).

When he takes the mound tonight, Gonzalez will not only be looking to help keep Washington’s win streak alive, but he’ll also be trying to overcome some serious struggles he’s had on the mound the last couple of weeks.

“He didn’t command as well as he wanted to,” manager Matt Williams told MLB.com Sunday.

In his last three starts, the Nationals’ left-hander has allowed 11 runs in just 14 1/3 innings of work. While he wasn’t terrible his last time out and only allowed two runs, Gonzalez was inefficient and exited the game after throwing 111 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings. The left-hander has struggled to pitch deep into the ball game for the better part of the last month as he’s only made it past the fourth inning in two of his last five starts.

Hopefully for the Nationals, Gonzalez will turn things around against a team he’s pitched well against in the past. In his career against the Pirates, Gonzalez is 2-0 with a 3.28 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 24 2/3 innings.

The Pirates will counter with left-hander Jeff Locke (4-3, 3.98 ERA). Pittsburg has won eight of Locke’s last 11 starts but the left-hander struggles his last time out, allowing four runs and walking four batters in five innings against the Tigers. In his career against the Nationals, Locke is 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA and three strikeouts over five innings.

Prior to Saturday night’s game, the Nationals  are 67-53 and lead the second-place Braves by six games in the NL East.

Here are the lineups for tonight’s game:

Pittsburgh Pirates @ Washington Nationals, 7:05 P.M. ET

Pirates
  1. SS: Josh Harrison
  2. RF: Gregory Polanco
  3. C: Russell Martin
  4. CF: Starling Marte
  5. 1B: Gaby Sanchez
  6. 3B: Pedro Alvarez
  7. 2B: Jayson Nix
  8. LF: Travis Snider
  9. SP: Jeff Locke
Nationals
  1. CF: Denard Span
  2. LF: Kevin Frandsen
  3. 3B: Anthony Rendon
  4. 1B: Adam LaRoche
  5. SS: Ian Desmond
  6. RF: Bryce Harper
  7. C: Wilson Ramos
  8. 2B: Danny Espinosa
  9. SP: Gio Gonzalez
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