Cubs rookie Dallas Beeler doesn’t look at all intimidated going up against a first-place club in his major league debut.
Beeler has held the Nats to one hit through three scoreless innings, striking out three and walking none.
Gonzalez has posted an identical line, throwing 40 pitches, 29 for strikes.
And who has the only hit off Gonzalez? Beeler. Of course. The Cubs pitcher singled in his first major league at-bat, grounding one up the middle with two outs in the third.
It wasn’t too much of a shock since Beeler is batting .250 (3-for-12) with Triple-A Iowa so far this season. His steadiness on the mound might be more surprising, as he hasn’t dominated in the minors this year, going 5-3 with a 4.03 ERA in 10 starts.
And thus, the Nats and Cubs are tied 0-0 after three frames.
Update: Nats center fielder Denard Span made two outstanding plays to be responsible for all three outs in the fourth.
First, he leapt into the ivy in the deepest part of the ballpark to make a catch at the center field wall. Then with Anthony Rizzo on first, he turned a brilliant double play, making a long run for a catch in shallow right-center before quickly firing the ball to first to double up the runner and end the inning.
Update II: The Nats finally broke through against Beeler in the sixth.
Rendon doubled with two outs and moved up to third on a John Baker passed ball. After Ryan Zimmerman walked to put runners on the corners, Rendon came in to score on a Beeler wild pitch with Adam LaRoche at the plate to give the Nats a 1-0 lead.
The run was unearned because of the passed ball, however, and Beeler has allowed just the one unearned run on four hits and three walks while striking out six in six innings. His day might be done with the bullpen active and the rookie having thrown 91 pitches.
Gonzalez has held the Cubs to two hits in six scoreless innings. He has struck out six and walked two. His pitch count is reasonable as well, as he has thrown 85, 54 for strikes.
Update III: The Nats increased their lead to 3-0 against relievers Justin Grimm and Wesley Wright in the eighth.
Span hit a one-out single and scored on Rendon’s RBI triple to center. Grimm was removed after a walk to Zimmerman and Rendon scored on LaRoche’s sacrifice fly off Wright.
Rendon is having an excellent day, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Update IV: Gonzalez provided the Nats with a gem of a start in the front end of today’s doubleheader.
The left-hander followed up his first quality start since May 4 with seven scoreless innings. He held the Cubs to two hits, fanned seven and walked two.
Over his last two outings, Gonzalez has tossed 13 scoreless frames, which is a nice way to rebound from an abysmal three-start stretch where he struggled to an 11.68 ERA.
Tyler Clippard has taken over in the eighth.
Update V: Clippard allowed one hit in a scoreless eighth and Rafael Soriano earned his 19th save with a perfect ninth, as the Nats won 3-0 for their first win of the four-game series.
Gonzalez, Clippard and Soriano combined for a three-hit shutout, as Washington recorded its 10th blanking of the season. Gonzalez earned the win, improving to 5-4. Beeler took the loss in his debut despite not allowing an earned run, falling to 0-1.
The Nats snapped a three-game skid, improving to 42-38 and taking a half-game lead over the Braves for first in the National League East. With a doubleheader sweep and a Braves loss to the Phillies, the Nats could hold a 1 1/2 game lead in the division by the end of the night.