Big sixth inning gives Gonzalez a cushion (Nats beat Mets 5-2)

FLUSHING, N.Y. - The Nationals had done very little against R.A. Dickey through five innings tonight, notching just three hits and going down on strikes seven times.

The sixth was a different story.

The Nats exploded with five straight two-out hits, scoring four runs and turning a 1-1 tie into a 5-1 lead.

The outpouring of offense started with Adam LaRoche’s two run homer off Dickey, a monster shot which was launched about halfway up the second deck in right field.

It was LaRoche’s 17th home run of the season.

Danny Espinosa and Roger Bernadina followed with singles, and Jesus Flores then ripped a single to left. Espinosa came around to score, and Jason Bay’s throw from left field got away from catcher Mike Nickeas, allowing Bernadina to come around as well.

Dickey was removed for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the inning, bringing an end to what looked like a very promising start for the knuckleballer.

Gio Gonzalez put up a stinker against the Mets last Thursday, delivering arguably his worst start as a National. Tonight, however, he’s been completely locked in, pounding the strike zone and mowing down Mets hitters with ease.

The lefty has needed just 68 pitches to get through six innings, and has allowed just one hit and one unearned run so far. Gonzalez has 10 ground ball outs to just three flyouts, and he’s struck out four.

Update: Gonzalez is done after seven innings of work, following that awful start against the Mets last week with one of his best outings of the season.

He leaves having allowed just the one unearned run and two hits. He also leaves in line for his 13th win of the season, and if the score holds, Dickey will be stuck with his first loss since April 18.

Update II: Despite talking about wanting to rely less on Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard, Davey Johnson went to both of them in the late innings tonight.

It worked out just fine, as both guys retired the Mets in order, and the Nats held on for a 5-2 win. With Gonzalez throwing just 87 pitches through seven innings, however, Johnson’s short leash will again be a topic of conversation.

Regardless, the Nats move to 18 games above .500 on the season and notch another series win over the Mets with tonight’s victory.

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