Gio Gonzalez was wild, walking four batters, but the Washington Nationals (63-53) could not solve Alex Wood and scored just one run as the dropped the rubber game of their road series against the Atlanta Braves (60-57), 3-1.
Gonzalez (L, 6-9) was maddeningly inconsistent. He loaded the bases in the first inning while striking out the side, but had four total strikeouts in a perfect second and third. He gave up three hits in the fourth, including a solo homer, and put on the first two batters he faced in the fifth.
Nearing 100 pitches, he seemed likely to be pulled, but he forced a double play ball to buy himself some time. He issued a walk to Justin Upton to put runners on the corners, but was kept in for the lefty-lefty matchup against Jason Heyward. Heyward tapped a grounder, but Gonzalez failed to cover first, allowing the eventual winning run to score.
At 111 pitches, Gonzalez was pulled after a strange outing that might have seemed better with more offensive support. He only went 4.2 innings, giving up six hits and walking four, but he only ceded two runs and he struck out eight.
The Nats’ offense was utterly hapless against Wood (W, 8-9). They managed just one run off of him, Ian Desmond’s 19th homer of the year, against 12 strikeouts, five hits, and three walks.
Injury was added to insult in the eighth. Jerry Blevins struck out the side in a perfect seventh, but stayed in for the eighth against multiple righties. He struck out the left-handed Heyward, then walked a righty and gave up a single to another. At over 30 pitches, a heavy load for him, Manager Matt Williams chose to keep him in against fearsome righty Evan Gattis. Gattis has mashed lefties, and righties have mashed Blevins. Unsurprisingly, Gattis singled to add an insurance run.
Despite a series loss, the Nationals depart Atlanta with a 3.5-game division lead. With an off day Wednesday, they now head to New York and take on the New York Mets.