Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez helped the Washington Nationals trim their NL Wild Card deficit to five games and clinch a winning season in their 3-2 victory over the Miami Marlins Thursday night.
Gonzalez was solid, allowing just two earned runs on seven hits, two walks and three strikeouts through 6.0 innings pitched. His first trouble spot came along with the first two batters faced, as Donovan Solano doubled and Ed Lucas singled him home to start the game, 1-0 Miami.
In the bottom of the inning, though, Harper more than evened things out for the Nats’ southpaw, who celebrated his 28th birthday on the mound. With one out, Ryan Zimmerman singled and Jayson Werth walked, allowing Harper to gift Gio a three-run shot off Henderson Alvarez (L, 4-5). The long ball marked Harper’s 20th home run of the season.
From there, the Marlins made some contact off Gonzalez, but failed to score through the next four innings. Gonzalez found himself in a trouble spot in the third after Donovan Solano and Ed Lucas hit back-to-back again, this time in the form of two singles.
Luckily for the Nats, Christian Yelich grounded into a double play in the next at-bat before Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Ruggiano each drew walks. After a coaching visit, Gonzalez regained control in time to jam Placido Polanco with a 94 MPH fastball for the third out.
The Nats went on to threaten in the bottom of the third, but Alvarez, too, pitched out of the jam. [Read more...]