Gio Gonzalez's midsummer surge continued tonight with perhaps the left-hander's best start of the season. Combine that with another productive night at the plate from the Nationals' lineup and the result was their fourth straight win, this one by a 5-1 margin over the Giants to open a long homestand.
Gonzalez tossed seven innings of two-hit ball in his latest strong outing - he's now 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA in his last five starts - and was finally afforded the run support that eluded him in previous appearances.
On the heels of an offensive explosion in Arizona earlier this week which featured 32 runs in three games, the Nationals returned home and picked up right where they left off. Three singles and a sacrifice fly brought home a pair of runs in the bottom of the first and gave Gonzalez a rare early cushion.
They didn't let up. Trea Turner's hustle double and Bryce Harper's sacrifice fly accounted for another run in the third inning. Turner then took care of his own business in the fifth, blasting a solo homer to left, his second in as many games.
By the time Wilson Ramos launched his 17th homer of the season (a new career-high) to center field in the bottom of the sixth, the Nationals had opened up a 5-1 lead, leaving the rest of the game in the hands of Gonzalez and the bullpen.
Gonzalez did his part, churning out his best start in a couple of weeks. He faced the minimum through three innings, the only blemish a two-out walk of Eduardo Nunez in the top of the first that was immediately erased when Gonzalez picked Nunez off first base.
The Giants' only damage off the southpaw came in the top of the fourth, when Angel Pagan homered to left field off a 2-2 fastball. But that was all Gonzalez would give up all night. Only one other batter reached base against him before he departed to a standing ovation after a 1-2-3 top of the seventh.
Sammy Solis, making his first appearance since last Sunday due to a case of strep throat, pitched out of a jam in a scoreless eighth inning. New closer Mark Melancon then pitched the ninth, his third appearance since his acquisition from the Pirates, though none have been save opportunities because the Nationals have led by too many runs.
Winners of four straight, the Nationals (65-44) improved to 21 games over .500 for the first time this season.