Nationals take second game of doubleheader from Mets

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Sep 25, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) pitches against the New York Mets in game two of a doubleheader at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: H.Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals won the second game of the doubleheader against the Mets, 3-0. The Nats had to play two games on Thursday to make up the rain out from Wednesday. The win by the Nationals dropped their magic number to one to lock up home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs.

The story of the night was Gio Gonzalez, who was magnificent. He gave up one hit in seven innings and set a personal record for strikeouts with twelve. He had all of his pitches working — fastball, curve and breaking ball.

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Gonzalez seized the opportunity in his last start of the regular season to make his bid to be a starting pitcher on the postseason roster. He did not make Matt Williams’ decision any easier, which is a good problem for the manager to have.

Since it was the second game of the doubleheader, there were changes to the team fielded by the Nats. Denard Span did not play either game to give him an extra day to recover from his banged up knee, although he was available to pinch hit. Nate Schierholtz got the start in center, and Scott Hairston started in left field in place of Bryce Harper. Danny Espinosa played short to give Ian Desmond the night off after he played in the day game. Tyler Moore took over at first base for Adam LaRoche.

The Nationals won the game due to their pitching and taking advantage of the Mets’ mistakes. The Nationals scored all of their runs in the bottom of the fourth off Mets starter Zack Wheeler.

Jayson Werth led off the inning with a single, and Wilson Ramos singled right behind him. Schierholtz drew a walk to load the bases. Moore grounded into a fielder’s choice. The Mets got the out at second, but Schierholtz broke up the double play opportunity with a good slide. Werth scored on the play and Ramos ended up at third. Hairston drew the second walk in the inning, and during his at bat Wheeler unleashed a wide pitch that Mets catcher Anthony Recker could not corral. Ramos scored from third for the Nats’ second run on the passed ball.

Espinosa kept the inning going with a single up the middle to load the bases. Gio struck out swinging. Anthony Rendon then got another RBI the hard way — he was hit by a pitch to drive in the Nats’ third run of the inning. Asdrubal Cabrera popped out to end the inning.

That was the end of the scoring for either team. Matt Thornton pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He clearly needed the work as he was not quite as sharp as we have seen him. He worked around two singles in the inning by Curtis Granderson and Ruben Tejada, both of which deflected off of the gloves of Nats infielders.

Drew Storen pitched the ninth to the “Drewwww” chants of the crowd, and he did not disappoint. He sat down Daniel Murphy (strikeout), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (groundout) and Lucas Duda (strikeout) for his 11th save.

The Nats took two out of three from the Mets and continued their dominance of New York.

Next Game: The Nationals play another doubleheader on Friday to start their last series of the regular season against the Miami Marlins. The first game is scheduled for 1:05 pm EST, the second at 7:05 pm.

Pitching matchups–not set in stone. Right now the pitching schedule is Doug Fister (15-6, 2.55 ERA) for the Nationals and Jarred Cosart (13-10, 3.70 ERA) for Game 1, and Taylor Hill (4.15 ERA in 4.1 innings pitched in the majors this year) for the Nationals and Andrew Heaney (0-3, 5.33 ERA) going for the Marlins in Game 2.

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