Despite brief scare, Gonzalez solid vs. St. Louis (Nats win 4-2)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Despite giving everyone in the park a brief scare that prompted a mound visit from a trainer, Gio Gonzalez made it through today’s outing in one piece and pitched quite well against a Cardinals lineup featuring several regulars.

Gonzalez allowed one run in five innings, that coming on Jedd Gyorko’s leadoff homer to left in the top of the fourth. The moment of panic, though, came during his final inning.

After throwing a pitch to Dexter Fowler, Gonzalez appeared to land awkwardly and then started shaking his left leg. Director of athletic training Paul Lessard jogged to the mound, along with manager Davey Martinez, as the crowd at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches held its collective breath.

It didn’t take too much convincing from Gonzalez, though, for Lessard to allow him to remain in the game. He proceeded to retire the next two batters, thanks in part to Anthony Rendon’s diving stop of José Martinez’s hard grounder to his left, and was smiling as he walked off the field.

Gio-Gonzalez-throwing-red-sidebar.jpgWith his pitch count at 77, Gonzalez would have been done for the day regardless, so it was no surprise when Erick Fedde trotted in from the bullpen for the top of the sixth.

Overall, Gonzalez pitched well in his third Grapefruit League start of the spring. (He also pitched in a minor league game last week.) The left-hander allowed four hits and a walk but didn’t let the Cardinals string anything together. His spring ERA now sits at 2.70.

The Nationals weren’t able to do anything against Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas, though center fielder Harrison Bader might have single-handedly prevented two runs from scoring.

Bader made two diving catches on balls in shallow center, robbing Rendon of what would have been an RBI single in the bottom of the first, then robbing Matt Adams of what might have been an RBI double in the fourth.

The Nats trail 1-0 in the sixth.

Update: The Nationals bats finally came alive. All they needed was to face someone other than Mikolas. Ryan Sherriff took over for the bottom of the sixth, and the left-hander proceeded to let five straight batters reach base, four via hit. Brian Goodwin, Trea Turner, Bryce Harper and Matt Adams all delivered singles (with Harper and Adams each driving in a run). Rendon drew a walk. By the time it was finished, the Nats scored four runs to take a 4-1 lead heading to the seventh.

Update II: Fedde picks up the win in a 4-2 Nationals victory, allowing a run on 3 2/3 innings. Tim Collins came on to get the save.

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