Lots of chances, few runs so far in series finale (Nats win 4-1)

SAN DIEGO - The Nationals are fielding something closer to their regular lineup this afternoon at Petco Park, but through four innings the results aren't any better than what their makeshift lineup produced Saturday night.

Despite six walks issued by Padres rookie Dinelson Lamet, the Nationals have managed only one run so far, squandering several opportunities for big innings at the plate.

Forced to field a lineup Saturday night that was missing Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Difo and Matt Wieters - in addition to DL'd regulars Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Jayson Werth - the Nationals were held to one run on three hits by Travis Wood and two relievers. They've got Murphy, Difo and Wieters all back starting today, but so far haven't taken advantage of it.

Lamet has been all over the place, walking two batters in the first, another in the second and three more in the third. But the Nationals' lone hit off the rookie right-hander was Difo's opposite-field double in the third. It required a sacrifice fly from Murphy to drive in their lone run so far.

sidebar-Gonzalez-grey.jpgGio Gonzalez has also needed to pitch his way out of trouble, not entirely of his making, though. The Nationals have been charged with two errors so far (one by Difo at shortstop, one by Alejandro De Aza in right field) and also let a catchable blooper to shallow right fall in for a hit.

The Padres have turned all that into only one run, though, going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. That's nothing new for Gonzalez, who is now holding opponents to a .120 batting average with runners in scoring position, easily the best mark among all major league starters.

Update: The Nationals finally made the most of a scoring opportunity in the top of the fifth. After De Aza dropped down a leadoff bunt single and stole second, Murphy sent an RBI single to right, advancing to second on the throw home. (Perhaps that day off Saturday did his legs good.) The Padres brought in lefty Buddy Baumann to face Adam Lind, but Lind responded with an opposite-field double to bring home Murphy and make it 3-1 Nats. That's Lind's 42nd RBI in only 219 plate appearances this season, a pretty impressive rate.

Update II: What a performance by Gonzalez. Again. He allowed one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings today, striking out eight with one walk, throwing 121 pitches before Dusty Baker pulled him following a two-out single in the seventh. Joe Blanton entered and struck out Jabari Blash on three pitches, so the Nats head to the eighth still up 3-1. Gonzalez, meanwhile, lowered his ERA to 2.39 (third in the majors) with 20 quality starts (tied for first in the majors with Chris Sale) and an opponents' batting average with runners in scoring position of .120 (best in the majors). What a season this has been for the lefty.

Update III: The Nats tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, with some help from a Padres defense that has - quite frankly - been atrocious this weekend. It's 4-1 now as Brandon Kintzler takes over for the bottom of the eighth.

Update IV: That's a wrap. Kintzler and Sean Doolittle finished off a 4-1 victory, securing a series victory for the Nats, who now head to Houston having won three of four and improved to a season-best 26 games over the .500 mark. Gonzalez improves to 12-5 with a 2.39 ERA. Doolittle, who struck out the side in the ninth, is 11-for-11 in save situations since joining the club last month.

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