Nats Celebrate Gio’s Return With Sweep


Jun 18, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) throws during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Gio Gonzalez may not have won his first game back with the Nationals, but the Nats didn’t allow him to lose either as they came from behind against the visiting Houston Astros, sweeping the two-game series, 6-5.

Similar to Tuesday’s game, the Nats scored early, taking a 1-0 lead in the first with a walk to Denard Span who later scored on an Adam LaRoche sacrifice fly.  The Nats scored again in the third when Ian Desmond singled home Jayson Werth.  Werth, who had stolen second earlier with a highlight worthy stop slide, was part of a Nats’ game plan to take advantage of Astros starter Scott Feldman’s slow delivery to home and be extra aggressive on the base paths.  The Nats stole five bases in the first three innings—two by Span, two by Anthony Rendon and the one by Werth.

Making his first start since May 17, after going on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, Gonzalez struggled with location throughout the game and fatigued in the fourth, allowing the Astros to plate four runs on a walk, a hit batter, three hits and a sacrifice fly.  The Astros sent eight batters to the plate, and finished the inning up 4-2.

On the night, Gonzalez finished with four earned runs in five innings, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out six.

For the Astros, Feldman also left after five innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and three walks while striking out five.

In the sixth the Nats scored their third run when Span doubled home Danny Espinosa who had reached on his second bunt single on the night.  The Astros quickly responded in the seventh, going up 5-3 on a Ross Detwiler wild pitch.

Rendon responded for the Nats in the seventh, closing the gap to 5-4 with his 10th home run of the season off of reliever Darin Downs.  Three batters later Ryan Zimmerman tied the score with a RBI fielder’s choice, and Zimmerman then scored the go ahead run on Nate McLouth’s sacrifice fly off of the first pitch he saw from Kyle Farnsworth (0-4).

Aaron Barrett faced one batter to run his record to 3-0.  Tyler Clippard pitched the eighth, and Rafael Soriano closed out the ninth for his 15th save.

Following a 0-for-19 drought that was broken last night, Span recorded multiple hits in back-to-back games.  On the night, Span finished 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, 1 RBI and two stolen bases.  Also recording two hits on the night were Rendon, LaRoche, Desmond and Espinosa.  The Nats recorded eleven hits in the game.

With the win, the Nats are now a game and a half ahead of the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins in the division.  The Braves visit the Nats tomorrow night, starting a four game series with Gavin Floyd facing off against Jordan Zimmermann.