Gonzalez on 7-1 loss to Reds: "It's hit or miss right now"

Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez was inconsistent in the first inning in game one of their doubleheader against the Reds. After fighting his way through six batters, allowing three hits and only one run, it looked like he would be able to use that confidence to build into the second frame.

But it just got worse from there.

Gonzalez-slings-white-0804-sidebar.jpgThe Reds connected on a three-run shot by Phillip Ervin in the second, to pull away for a 7-1 victory in game one of a split doubleheader at Nats Park.

"They came out, they swung the bats right from the first inning," said Nationals manager Davey Martinez. "He fell behind a couple times. They put the ball in play, they really did. We fell behind early, just couldn't come back."

Martinez said they tried to get Gonzalez going after he survived the first inning.

"We pump him up," Martinez said. "He pitched out of a jam right out of the first inning and I thought that was great. The wheels could have fallen apart right there. Then the next inning, he threw a change-up to Ervin and he hit it pretty good. Three-run homer.

"So, after that you have to stay with him and hope he keeps us in the ballgame at that point. Once his pitch count got way up there, that's a lot of pitches in four innings, so you gotta get him out of there."

Ervin's homer was his first of the season and first since September 21, 2017 against the Cardinals. He finished with four RBIs.

Gonzalez has now allowed five or more runs in two of his last three starts. He has surrendered four or more runs in five starts since June 9.

He feels like he cannot find his rhythm and is letting hitters he should get out succeed. Ervin hit his first homer of the season and Brandon Dixon's solo shot in the third was only his second homer of the season.

"Right now I'm just trying to battle through whatever I'm going through and hopefully start catching my breaks and the tide will change," Gonzalez said. "Unfortunately, it's weird how it's working. You fall behind on guys you're not supposed to be lasting too long, you get ahead of the guys, you're not supposed to be out of the game too early.

"For me, it's hit or miss right now. It's just damned if you do, damned if you don't. It's just one of those things where you got to battle through it. It's one of those learning curves of baseball and you're going to keep learning from it. The Reds are playing good ball and they were swinging the bat today. And they made a lot of contact."

Cincinnati pounded out 13 hits, plating runs in five of the first six innings.

The Nats offense managed only one run off of Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani. He is 2-0 in seven games against the Nationals. This was his fourth straight start against the nationals that he went at least five innings and allowed two or fewer earned runs. His career ERA against the Nats is now 2.17.

Bryce Harper, Juan Soto and Daniel Murphy each collected two hits for the Nats, each with one double. But the only run for the Nats came on a Ryan Zimmerman fielder's choice that scored Soto in the second.

Martinez said the starting rotation has to deliver better than today, especially in a doubleheader.

"It's super important, we've done that up to this point," Martinez said. "But we gotta continue to get these guys going. Tanner's pitching good. Gio's been pitching good up to today. (Jeremy Hellickson's) done well. If Helly comes out the second game and keeps us in the game, we've got an opportunity to win. It's huge. When the starting rotation comes out and keeps us close, that's huge. With our offense, we're going to score runs."

The Nats are 55-54. They lost only 65 regular season games all of last season.

Orioles and Rangers lineups
Game 110 lineups: Nats vs. Reds

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