An incredibly bizarre outing for Gio Gonzalez (Nats lose 8-1)

ATLANTA - This is one of the more bizarre outings I’ve seen turned in by a starting pitcher in some time.

Gio Gonzalez has struck out nine batters through four innings. His stuff has been good, his velocity is there and his pitches have plenty life.

Outside of the strikeout numbers, however, everything else has gone wrong for Gonzalez.

The Nationals left-hander has allowed five runs in his four innings of work. He’s allowed seven hits. He’s walked five Braves batters. He threw a wild pitch.

It’s taken Gonzalez 95 pitches to get through those four innings, and Davey Johnson will likely have to go to his bullpen to start the fifth.

Of the 24 batters Gonzalez has faced, 14 reached base. The 12 outs Gonzalez recorded consisted of the nine strikeouts, a popped bunt, a caught stealing and a fielder’s choice.

To summarize: Only one out was recorded on a full swing from a Braves hitter.

The Nationals trail 5-0 heading to the fifth, and they have yet to record a hit off Braves starter Tim Hudson.

Update: The Nats are finally on the board both in the hit and run columns, and Gonzalez is out of the game.

Tyler Moore notched the Nats’ first hit of the game on a double to right leading off the top of the fifth, and he came in two batters later on Wilson Ramos’ RBI groundout.

It’s 5-1 mid-way through the fifth.

Gonzalez was pinch-hit for by Roger Bernadina, ending the starter’s evening.

Update II: Zach Duke didn’t fare much better than Gonzalez.

Duke allowed three runs in the fifth inning. The first came when Hudson homered to right, with the ball bouncing off Bryce Harper’s glove and ricocheting over the fence. It was likely going out anyway, but Harper had a shot at it.

An Andrelton Simmons single, a Chris Johnson double and an intentional walk to Justin Upton brought up Freddie Freeman, who ripped a ground ball off the glove of Adam LaRoche. Two more runs scored, making it an 8-1 game.

The Braves have 11 hits to the Nats’ one through five innings, and Nats pitchers have issued six walks.

No bueno.

Update III: Through eight, the Nats have still managed just three hits and trail 8-1.

They’re 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and stranded Ian Desmond after the Nats shortstop tripled to lead off the seventh inning.

Danny Espinosa has struck out three times tonight and is now 2-for-16 with seven strikeouts and one walk since moving into the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

Update IV: That’ll do it. The Nats lose to the Braves 8-1, their ninth straight loss to Atlanta. Five of those have come this season.

Hudson picked up his 200th career win tonight. He’s now 16-5 with a 2.55 ERA against the Nats/Expos.

The Nats finish April with a 13-14 record, the first time since September 2011 that they’ve had a sub.-500 month.

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