I hate to be the cynic, but every game I expect the Nationals' starting pitcher to falter, not due to a lack of talent or anything sinister, it just simply has to happen some time.
Fortunately, Nats fans, today was not that day.
As he has done all season, Gio Gonzalez was dominant, stifling a Phillies lineup that mustered just four hits and one run in seven innings against Washington's left-hander. Gonzalez's seven strikeouts and one walk, combined with three home runs by the offense, propelled the Nationals to a 7-1 win and put them in position for a three-game sweep of the Phillies.
For Gonzalez, it was business as usual. He allowed just a single run when Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth, scoring Shane Victorino to put the visiting team ahead 1-0. It didn't matter in the end, but the run could've easily been avoided as Nats catcher Wilson Ramos struggled to ensnare the relay throw, allowing the Phillies to grab the early advantage.
The Nats responded, however, with a four-run fifth inning, highlighted by Jayson Werth's three-run shot to left. It was the first of two home runs issued by Phillies starter Vance Worley, who pitched six innings, allowing 11 hits and five earned runs in the loss.
Nats first baseman Chad Tracy added an insurance bomb when he hit a two-run home run to right field in the seventh, pushing the Nationals' lead to, fittingly, 7-1.
From there the Nats bullpen took control, as Ryan Mattheus tossed a 10-pitch eighth and closed the door in the ninth. On the day, the Nationals scattered 15 hits, six of which came from Steve Lombardozzi and Rick Ankiel. Bryce Harper went hitless on the afternoon, but on a day when the rest of the order was hot at the plate, some sound defense in left field did the trick.
With the win, the Nationals move to 18-9 on the year and continue to sit atop the National League East. Dan Kolko's busy getting his broadcasting groove on over on "Nats Xtra" but look for his postgame thoughts shortly.