Tom Gorzelanny is doing what he can to remove the stigma that he’s the weak link in the Nationals’ rotation. The left-hander, who took both losses when the Nats won 13 of 15 games, is preventing his old Pittsburgh teammates from adding to their 1-0 advantage.
In the the fifth inning, when Alex Presley hit a two-out double into the right-field corner, Gorzelanny got Chase d’Arnaud to pop to first base to end the inning.
An inning later, Andrew McCutchen led off with a scorcher of a double down the left-field line, but Gorzelanny stiffened and got out of the inning unscathed. He induced a grounder to short by cleanup hitter Matt Diaz that moved McCutchen to third, then struck out the next two hitters swinging, getting Ronny Cedeno to chase a rising 92 mph pitch that was high and out of the strike zone for the final out.
Gorzelanny has allowed an unearned run on five hits through six innings, and Roger Bernadina just led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot to right-center. His fifth homer of the season, coming off the first pitch he saw from Charlie Morton, has tied the score at 1-1.
Morton was pulled from the game with two outs, no one on and left-handed-hitting Laynce Nix due up, despite having thrown only 88 pitches. Lefty Tony Watson relieved and walked Nix before getting Michael Morse to swing at a third strike.
Morton went 5 2/3 innings, allowing a run on three hits, walking two and striking out one.
Update: Gorzelanny is done for the night after seven impressive innings. He surrendered an unearned run on six hits, walked one and struck out eight. In the seventh, he worked out of another jam, fanning pinch hitter Brandon Wood and Presley swinging with the potential go-ahead run on second base. He threw 95 pitches, 68 for strikes.