[June 19, 2014]WASHINGTON - Lefty Gio Gonzalez
returned to the improved Washington starting rotation on Wednesday
night. And while his individual performance was not memorable, the
Nationals -- backed by 11 hits -- came back to win 6-5 over the Houston
Gonzalez allowed four runs on five hits and three walks before he
was lifted after five innings in a game that began with the
temperature at 94 degrees.
"It is something you learn from. Dust off the cobwebs off and get
back at it. There should be no excuses," said Gonzalez, who had been
on the disabled list for nearly a month with left shoulder
He got off the hook as pinch hitter Nate McLouth broke a tie with a
sacrifice fly during a three-run seventh inning as the Nats swept
the two-game interleague series.
"It is good to have him back out there," right fielder Jayson Werth
said of Gonzalez, who won 21 games for Washington in 2012.
The Nationals beat Houston for the eighth consecutive meeting.
Washington is 12-6 in its last 18 games heading into a four-game
home series against the Atlanta Braves that starts Thursday while
Houston heads to Tampa Bay.
"It was real hot there. Obviously the pitch count was a huge
factor," Houston manager Bo Porter said of starter Scott Feldman,
who threw 103 pitches in five innings. "He had to make some quality
pitches to keep it a 4-2 ballgame."
Washington trailed 5-3 before third baseman Anthony Rendon led off
the bottom of the seventh with a solo homer off Astros reliever Josh
Zeid. Rendon is 9-for-19 in his career against Houston, his hometown
After Werth walked, first baseman Adam LaRoche singled against
reliever Darin Downs (1-1). The Nationals tied the game when left
fielder Ryan Zimmerman picked up an RBI on a fielder's choice
groundout against Kyle Farnsworth.
Later in the inning, McLouth, who entered the game hitting .180 with
five RBIs in 111 at bats, pinch-hit for catcher Sandy Leon. His
drive into the left field corner made it easy for Zimmerman to score
the go-ahead run.
Houston scored four runs in the fourth but Gonzalez did not allow a
run in the next frame.
"That fifth inning made me feel comfortable," he said.
Feldman gave up two runs in five innings, with three walks and five
"It was a battle, and I was throwing a lot of pitches," Feldman
said. "Hard to stop sweating when you're throwing so many pitches
like that. Last couple of innings we were better, but you know, I
wish I would've been a little more conservative with them early on
in the game."
"I felt fine, just missing a little bit down, stuff like that, maybe
just being a little too fine rather than just going and getting
right after 'em," Feldman said. "I was just missing my spots a
little bit and they were good at waiting me out and getting
something up in the zone."
Reliever Aaron Barrett (3-0) picked up the win as the Nationals
improved to 32-2 when scoring four runs or more.
Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless eighth for the Nationals, and
closer Rafael Soriano registered his 15th save with a scoreless
ninth. He fanned rookie right fielder George Springer for the final
out with a runner on first.
Rendon, LaRoche, center fielder Denard Span, shortstop Ian Desmond
and second baseman Danny Espinosa had two hits apiece for
Washington. Astros second baseman Jose Altuve finished 2-for-4, and
Houston third baseman Matt Dominguez hit a two-run single.
NOTES: Washington begins a four-game series with the divisional
rival Atlanta Braves on Thursday. Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann
(5-3, 2.98 ERA) will face Atlanta RHP Gavin Floyd (1-2, 2.98), a
native of nearby Annapolis, Md. ... Houston begins a series Thursday
at Tampa Bay. The scheduled starters are Houston RHP Collin McHugh
(4-4, 3.03) against Rays RHP Chris Archer (3-4, 3.40) ... Houston
RHP Paul Clemens went to Robinson High in Fairfax, Va., about 30
minutes from Nationals Park. ... Houston RHP Brad Peacock is a
former Washington pitcher who was traded to Oakland in the deal that
brought LHP Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals prior to the 2012 season.
Peacock has a stomach virus and did not make the trip to Washington.
He will join the team in Tampa Bay, according to manager Bo Porter.