The Washington Nationals starting pitchers are putting together quite a string of consecutive shut out innings. Gio Gonzalez extended that string six more innings, up to 22, leading the Nats to a 3-1 win over the San Diego Padres. The Nats run their season record to 13-4, while the Padres fall to 5-13.
It’s hard to come up with superlatives anymore for this pitching staff. Every night seems to produce yet another dominant performance, and this one was no different. Gonzalez (W, 2-0, 1.52) went six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and two walks, striking out six. In fact, in his last 20 innings, has allowed just four hits and four walks with 21 strikeouts — with no runs against.
Padres starter, lefty Clayton Richard, was almost as good as Gonzalez. He shut the Nats down for the first six innings of work with no troubles at all, striking out six along the way.
The Nats finally broke through against Richard (L, 1-2) in the seventh inning. Xavier Nady led off with a double to left and Wilson Ramos followed with a walk. Manager Davey Johnson asked Steve Lombardozzi to sacrifice, which he did successfully, moving both runners up. With one out, Johnson called upon Chad Tracy to pinch-hit for Gonzalez, despite the lefty-lefty matchup with Richard. But Tracy got the job done, lacing 1-0 pitch up the middle through a drawn-in infield, plating both runners.
Craig Stammen started the seventh but didn’t have it last night, walking the first batter he faced and giving up a bloop single to the second. Johnson saw enough, and summoned Tyler Clippard to get out of the jam. Clippard struck out Yonder Alonso, who swung over top of a change-up, for the first out of the inning. Pinch-hitter Andy Parrino muscled a broken bat single to center that would not have scored Cameron Maybin, the runner at second base. But center fielder Jayson Werth flat-out dropped the ball transferring to throw, and Maybin scooted home with the Padres’ run.
Clippard limited the damage, finally retiring pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay on a pop-up to short after a 12-pitch at bat and coaxing a grounder to third for a routine play by Chris Denorfia.
Sean Burnett pitched an uneventful eighth inning and Henry Rodriguez slammed the door shut for his fifth save of the season.
THE GOOD: Chad Tracy. The pinch-hit specialist came through again with the two-run single.
THE BAD: Ian Desmond. 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He has just two hits — and no walks — in his last 20 plate appearances over five games.
THE UGLY: Mark DeRosa. 0-for-3 drops his average for the season to .091.
THE STATS: Four hits, six walks, 11 strikeouts. 2-for-10 with RISP, six LOB, one GIDP. E: Werth (1).
NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 6:35 pm EST at San Diego. Jordan Zimmermann (0-1, 1.29) faces Joe Wieland (0-2, 5.73).