The Nationals will leave Atlanta with their lead down to 3 1/2 games in the National League East.
Gio Gonzalez was a victim of a high pitch count. He was unable to make it out of the fifth inning as he allowed two runs on 111 pitches.
Jerry Blevins allowed the other run of the night in the eighth inning.
Shortstop Ian Desmond provided the Nats with their lone run of the night, courtesy of a solo home run in the fourth inning.
Here’s what manager Matt Williams said to reporters following the Nats’ 3-1 loss to the Braves.
On the performance of Gonzalez: “The first inning was a lot of pitches and then the next couple were OK, but then he ran into trouble in that last inning. With two out he just didn’t get over to cover first base. It could have been a different story getting out of that inning. He was over 100 (pitches) through five, they fouled a lot of balls off, but he just didn’t command as well as he wanted to.”
On the mental mistake Gonzalez made when he failed to cover first base in the fifth inning: “You get caught watching the playing. (Adam LaRoche) went for the ball, fielded it clean, we had a shot at getting him at second base certainly, but there was nobody there. Ultimately, that’s the difference in the game. If it’s 1-1 there, we may have a different story. ... Ultimately, the lack of making that play is the difference.”
On Gonzalez’s command throughout the game: “The games that he’s pitched really well in, it’s been early fastball command and the other pitches for strikes and certainly the changeup down-and-out of the zone when it needs it to be. Tonight, he didn’t have that as well, so he relied more on his fastball. He had a good fastball, but just way too many pitches.”
On the decision to stick with Blevins in the eighth despite a high pitch count: “We’ve got an off day tomorrow. At that point, we’re one run away from tying it too. The way we’ve been going we have a couple of guys where we don’t want to go two (innings) if we don’t have to. He made a good pitch. A little blooper, that happens sometimes. He made the pitches he wanted to make on Gattis. ... Down a run there, we’re not going to go to the back of our bullpen guys again so we wanted him to get through that one.”