Washington Nationals Recap: Nats Offense Backs Up Gio Gonzalez In 9-3 Win Over Pirates


Tonight, two of the key offensive players on the Washington Nationals made their return to the lineup against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Anthony Rendon played in his first game since June 24 and played second base while Yunel Escobar was back at third base after missing the last two games with a hand/wrist injury.

While Escobar went 3-for-5 and Rendon drove in a run, it was leadoff hitter Michael Taylor and shortstop Ian Desmond that were the stars of the night.  Taylor went 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBI’s while Desmond homered for the third straight game as the Nationals offense got back on track for Gio Gonzalez (8-4, 3.83) in a 9-3 win over Pittsburgh, their first win of the series.

It was the Nats who found a way to get on the board first in the top of the second. Desmond and Jose Lobaton had back-to-back one out singles to put runners at the corners. While A.J. Burnett (8-4, 2.68) had his curveball working in the early stages of the game, he threw one in the dirt to Matt den Dekker that got away from Francisco Cervelli. Burnett wasn’t covering the plate, which allowed Desmond to score and made it 1-0 Nationals.

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Two innings later, it would be Gio Gonzalez that would help himself by driving in a run of his own. With the bases loaded and two outs, Gonzalez hit a ball that deflected off the glove of Burnett, which scored Yunel Escobar. Michael Taylor would make the score 3-0 with a base hit to left field that drove in Clint Robinson.

Washington’s offense would not stop there. In the top of the fifth, it was Robinson’s turn as he hit a base hit to left with one out to drive in Escobar to make it 4-0. The score would be increased to 5-0 one inning later when Rendon drove in den Dekker with a sacrifice fly to right. That would be it for A.J. Burnett. Burnett went 5.2 innings, gave up five runs on 11 hits, struck out eight, and walked none in the loss.

The only inning where the Pirates were able to get to Gonzalez was in the bottom of the sixth. Pedro Alvarez led off with a base hit and Gregory Polanco reached on a Robinson error to put runners at the corners. That set up Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen to hit back-to-back RBI singles to cut the Nats lead to 5-2. With runners at first and second, Matt Williams went to Aaron Barrett to replace Gonzalez.

With Barrett in the game, the Pirates tacked on one more run three batters later when Cervelli drove in Marte with a base hit to center to make the score 5-3, Nats. Felipe Rivero would enter the game and get Neil Walker to line out to right to end the inning. He would also retire all three batters he faced in the seventh.

As for Gonzalez, the left-hander went five innings, gave up three runs (one earned) on five hits, struck out five, and walked none on 74 pitches to get his fourth win in his last five starts.

In the top of the seventh, Ian Desmond continued his red hot week at the plate as he hit a two run homer to left field to make it 7-3. It was Desmond’s 11th of the season and his third in as many days. One inning later, after a leadoff walk by Emmanuel Burriss, Taylor hit a two-run shot to center field to extend the lead to 9-3. It was Taylor’s seventh of the season.

Tanner Roark would pitch the final two innings for the Nationals. He gave up one hit and struck out three batters during his outing.

Next Game: The Washington Nationals (52-44) will wrap up their four game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates (56-41) tomorrow afternoon at PNC Park. You can catch the game on MASN2 and WUSA9 at 1:35 PM ET. Joe Ross (2-2, 2.70) gets the start for the Nationals against Gerrit Cole (13-4, 2.31) for the Pirates.

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