Gonzalez roughed up by Braves again during 7-3 loss

ATLANTA - Gio Gonzalez can't beat the Braves. Which has to leave the Nationals seriously wondering if they can trust the left-hander to beat a much better opponent in the playoffs.

Gonzalez was roughed up yet against by Atlanta this afternoon, lasting just 4 1/3 innings and giving up six runs during the Nationals' 7-3 loss at Turner Field.

It was Gonzalez's third start vs. the last-place Braves in the last month, and none of them were encouraging. He allowed a total of 16 runs (15 earned) in 13 total innings and twice couldn't make it out of the fifth.

The loss, only their third in 18 head-to-head games with the Braves this season, keeps the Nationals' magic number at six, pending the Mets' game against the Twins later this evening.


Trea Turner did just about everything he could to move the Nats closer to the National League East title, racking up three more hits and homering twice more. But each of the rookie leadoff man's homers were solo shots, and his strikeout came with the bases loaded.

Turner's first blast did give the Nationals a brief 1-0 lead, but Gonzalez gave the run right back in the bottom of the first via a double, a hit batter and Nick Markakis' RBI single.

The top half of the Braves lineup continued to torment Gonzalez throughout his outing. Atlanta's 1-through-5 hitters were a collective 9-for-13 (with two hit batters) against the lefty.

After four of the first five batters in the fifth reached base, manager Dusty Baker decided he had seen enough. Gonzalez failed to complete five innings for the fifth time in 30 starts, three of those coming in the last month.

With Stephen Strasburg unlikely to return from a strained elbow muscle in time for the start of the postseason, the Nationals find themselves searching for a No. 3 and No. 4 starter for their likely NLDS matchup with the Dodgers. At the moment, they would pencil Gonzalez into one of those spots, with right-hander Joe Ross (starting Sunday after 2 1/2 months on the disabled list) potentially filling the other slot.

Outside of Turner's latest power display, the Nationals produced very little at the plate against Josh Collmenter and the Atlanta bullpen. They were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position until Turner's seventh-inning single with a man on second.

Daniel Murphy did tie a couple of Nationals single-season records with one swing of his bat. Murphy's third-inning line drive off the right field wall gave him 184 hits (matching Denard Span's mark from 2014) and 47 doubles (matching Ryan Zimmerman's mark from 2006).

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