Last time out, Gio Gonzalez was in the game barely long enough to break a sweat before getting chased in his worst outing of the season, as he allowed six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings last week against the Mets. Tuesday night in New York he reverted back to All-Star form, limiting the Mets to two hits over seven innings, as the Washington Nationals moved to 18 games over .500 with a 5-2 win over the Mets, before 36,236 at Citi Field.
The Nats stay 4 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta as the Braves defeated the Miami Marlins 4-2 in Miami to keep pace with the Nationals.
What promised to be a matchup of two dominant All-Star pitchers lived up to the billing for five innings, as Gonzalez and R.A. Dickey were both superb. Each gave up one run in those five innings, but rarely were batters hitting anything hard off either pitcher.
But the Nats got Dickey to crack in the fifth, scoring four times to take a lead they’d never surrender. Gonzalez stayed sharp, completing two more innings before turning things over to his bullpen. Ryan Mattheus gave up a pinch-hit home run to the only batter he faced, Jordany Valdespin, but Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard, as they have pretty much all season long, got the job done, and both pitched a perfect inning to secure the victory.
Gonzalez tied Dickey for the N.L. lead in win with his 13th of the season. His final line was stellar: 7.0 IP, 1 run (unearned), 2 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts.
The Nats big inning in the fifth all came with two outs. After Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman struck out, it looked like Dickey was going to continue his mastery this season. But Michael Morse hit a soft line drive to left to give the Nats some hope. Adam LaRoche followed and provided the big hit, a homer to the upper deck in right field, his 17th of the season.
Danny Espinosa followed with a single, and Roger Bernadina beat out a swinging bunt up the first base line, barely eluding a sweeping tag by Ike Davis. Jesus Flores then laced a single to left, scoring Espinosa. When the throw from Jason Bay up the line got away from catcher Mike Nickeas, Bernadina scampered home as well.
The Nats got their first run of the night on back-to-back doubles by Zimmerman and Espinosa in the fourth inning.
THE GOOD: Gio. He induced 12 ground ball outs from the Mets. Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-5 and upped his batting average to .277.
THE BAD: Steve Lombardozzi. He went 0-for-5 i the leadoff spot. He and Harper combined to got 0-for-9 with a walk in the first two spots in the order.
THE UGLY: Ryan Mattheus. He’s given up homers in two of his last three outings, allowing three earned runs on five hits and a walk in 2 2/3 innings.
THE STATS: 11 H, 2 BB, 11 Ks. 2-for-8 with RISP, 7 LOB, 0 GIDP. E: Espinosa (5), 0 DPs.
NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 12:10 at the Mets. Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 2.85) faces Jeremy Hafner (1-3, 5.85)
NATS NOTES: Jayson Werth went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts for AAA-Syracuse in their 6-1 win over Rochester.