Left-hander Gio Gonzalez has been able to go long into games in his last three starts, totaling 21 2/3 innings. While averaging seven innings in those games, he has allowed the bullpen to enjoy short work and keep it fresh.
Gonzalez will look to do that again Sunday against the Brewers. The Nationals are 3-0 in three games Gonzalez has started against Milwaukee.
In the first inning, he allowed only a Ryan Braun single and stolen base.
But in the second, he battled out of a huge jam to keep the game scoreless. Milwaukee was able to load the bases with only one out thanks to a walk, Mark Reynolds single and Ryan Zimmerman throwing error.
But Gonzalez struck out pitcher Yovani Gallardo and Carlos Gomez swinging to retire the side.
Still no score into the bottom of the second at Nationals Park.
The Nats and Brewers have identical records for today’s situation - the Nationals are 29-20 at home and the Brewers are 29-20 on the road.
Update: The Nationals really hit Gallardo hard in the second. Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper had singles wrapped around a Ryan Zimmerman called third strike. LaRoche came home on an Ian Desmond single and the Nationals lead 1-0. Desmond went to second and Harper was at third after the throw.
Jose Lobaton’s hot-shot liner was caught by Gallardo on a quick reflex play and Harper was doubled off of third to end the inning.
After two complete, the Nationals lead 1-0.
Update II: A Gonzalez fielding mistake helped Milwaukee rally in the third. After striking out Rickie Weeks, which was Gonzalez’s 1,000th career strikeout, he promptly walked Braun and Aramis Ramirez.
On a Jonathan Lucroy grounder back to the pitcher, Gonzalez missed Braun racing all the way home from second to tie the game. Khris Davis added a run-scoring single and Milwaukee leads 2-1.
Note: Gonzalez is the first player to record his 1,000th career strikeout in a Nationals uniform.
Update III: In the fourth, the Brewers extended their lead on a Jean Segura double and a Carlos Gomez groundout to short to make it 3-1.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Nationals mounted a thrilling comeback. After a LaRoche walk, Ryan Zimmerman crushed a Gallardo offering over the wall in right-center and the Nationals tied the game 3-3.
With two outs, Jose Lobaton doubled, his seventh double in 157 plate appearances this season. Reliever Craig Stammen, a career .195 hitter - which is outstanding for a pitcher - hit a dribbler in front of the mound that Lucroy couldn’t get to fast enough and everyone was safe. Lobaton took third on the play. He came home on a Gallardo wild pitch and the Nationals took a 4-3 lead.
Gonzalez finished 3 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, three runs, all earned, three walks and he struck out five. He tossed 88 pitches, 47 for strikes. It marked Gonzalez’s second-shortest outing of the season. He went three innings in a 5-2 loss to the Mets on May 17.
Update IV: After the Nats bullpen had tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Gonzalez, closer Rafael Soriano surrendered the tying run in the ninth.
With one out, Scooter Gennett singled and Gomez walked before Weeks knotted the game at 4-4 with an RBI single up the middle.
It was Soriano’s third blown save in 25 opportunities. Now the Nats look to keep this contest from getting to extra innings.
Update V: The Nats responded positively to the blown save, rallying for a 5-4 walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth.
Denard Span singled with one out before Anthony Rendon took his spot at first with a fielder’s choice grounder.
With two outs, Jayson Werth delivered a victory by doubling into the left field corner, scoring Rendon all the way from first.
That gave the Nats their third walk-off win of the season. Soriano improved to 2-0 on the year while Brewers reliever Rob Wooten took the loss.
As a result, the Nats swiped the weekend series from Milwaukee, moving to 10 games over .500 at 53-43.