CHICAGO - Game 1 went as the Nationals had hoped. Now, with a win in game two of today’s split doubleheader with the Cubs, the Nats can head home with a series split and a winning road trip.
Thanks to Gio Gonzalez’s seven strong innings, Anthony Rendon’s three-hit ballgame and Denard Span’s tremendous defensive work out in center field, the Nats earned a 3-0 victory in the day game here at Wrigley Field.
Gonzalez went seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and two walks, striking out seven and being much more economical with his pitches than he had been in his two previous outings, needing just 99 over those seven frames.
Rendon singled, doubled and tripled today. He scored the game’s first run when he trotted home on a wild pitch in the sixth, and then plated a big insurance run in the eighth with a triple to the right-center field gap.
Span made a tremendous catch up against the ivy in center leading off the bottom of the fourth, twisting around and leaping to make the grab of a Justin Ruggiano deep fly before falling up against the brick wall. Two batters later, he came in on a Starlin Castro bloop, made a nice running catch and then fired to first to double off Anthony Rizzo and end the inning.
Here’s manager Matt Williams after the win:
On Gonzalez being more efficient today and throwing more first-pitch strikes: “Yeah, again, today he had his curveball early, which is key for him. Curveball and changeup command is key. He had a better fastball, too. Touched 94 (mph) a few times today. So, all-in-all, really good for him.”
On having Gonzalez back on track along with the rest of the rotation: “It’s important for us. I’m happy for him that he feels good about it. He’s had no shoulder issues, so that’s a good sign. Velocity’s come back. The ability to throw all his pitches for strikes is huge for him. So, he pitched really good.”
On Span’s strong defensive day: “Yeah. It’s every day. Look back to the first couple games, he made a couple plays in each gap to save extra base hits for us. It’s gold out there.”
On his throw to first to double off Rizzo being impressive: “On the run, yeah. Because he’s got momentum, but still, he doesn’t have time to set himself and make a regular throw. But he was right on the money. Little high, but Rochie got his foot back down.”
On Gonzalez keeping it a scoreless game when the Nats had trouble scoring early: “Yeah, he certainly pitched well, and we were able to scratch one (across) and certainly open it up a little later. So it’s good. We’d rather do it earlier than that, but he kept us in it, kept them in check and pitched good.”
On if Jayson Werth will play in the nightcap: “I know for sure he is. Everybody else, I don’t know yet.”