NEW YORK -- A reporter asked Dave Martinez about Giovany Gonzalez's gaudy track record pitching against the Mets at Citi Field before Tuesday night's 5-2 Washington win, and about the 10 wins in 11 decisions on New York's home turf. The Nationals' manager pounded his office desk."Why would you say
NEW YORK -- A reporter asked Dave Martinez about Giovany Gonzalez's gaudy track record pitching against the Mets at Citi Field before Tuesday night's 5-2 Washington win, and about the 10 wins in 11 decisions on New York's home turf. The Nationals' manager pounded his office desk.
"Why would you say that right now?" Martinez asked -- playfully. "You know what? Some players, they feel really good pitching in different ballparks and hitting in different ballparks. I just hope that Gio gets to be 11-1."
Gio got to be 11-1. The 32-year-old lefty allowed eight hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings, but surrendered just two runs. The bullpen pitched in with 3 2/3 scoreless frames to help the Nats follow up their stunning comeback win to open the series on Monday night. The win pulled them even at 9-9 and within four games of the Mets.
"You want to try to catch up, shorten up that distance," Gonzalez said. "That's a great lineup. You've got to respect each one of those guys." Gonzalez is off to a 2-1 start with a 2.49 ERA through four outings. His Citi Field ERA now stands at 1.78 through 16 career starts.
"It might be the weather, food, I don't know. Airplanes, I don't know," Gonzalez said of his success at the stadium near LaGuardia Airport. "It's a beautiful ballpark."
Gonzalez's ownership of the Mets at their home field could prove key for Washington, as both teams are expected to jockey all season for the National League East title. Gonzalez is 15-5 with a 2.90 ERA overall against the Mets in 25 career starts.
"He's really good anywhere, really," Martinez said. "He keeps us in the game."
The Nationals began backing Gonzalez in the third. Trea Turner, who went 3-for-4 to lift his average from .219 to .250, lined a single into right-center off Zack Wheeler with one out. Bryce Harper lifted a sac fly to score Turner for a 1-0 lead. In the fourth, a pair of soft RBI singles from Wilmer Difo and Pedro Severino made it a 3-0 game.
Gonzalez finally cracked in the fifth, when the Mets put runners at second and third with no outs, but he limited the damage to two runs. New York knocked Gonzalez out of the game with back-to-back one-out singles in the sixth, but Sammy Solis came in and cleaned up the mess. The lefty struck out pinch-hitter Jose Reyes on a foul tip and got Amed Rosario to foul out.
"Awesome," Martinez said of Solis' work. "He did unbelievable."
Washington added a run in the seventh on a sharp Ryan Zimmerman single and another in the eighth when Michael A. Taylor singled, stole second, advanced on a bunt and scored on a groundout.
And the Nats' bullpen did its job. Ryan Madson worked out of trouble in the seventh. Brandon Kintzler did the same in the eighth, and Sean Doolittle fired a perfect ninth for his third save.
"I know it's the middle of April still," Doolittle said. "But for the stuff we've already dealt with this season, coming of the homestand that we just had, to start off a long road trip like this is really, really good."
Harper went 0-for-2 with two walks and a sac fly, giving him a .365 average, six homers, 14 RBIs, 19 runs scored and 17 walks in 17 games against the Mets since the start of last season. Also, he entered Tuesday as the owner of the best March/April slugging percentage (.654) and OPS (1.091) in MLB history. The runner-up in both categories? Try Babe Ruth. (.638/1.090). Third place in OPS? Try Ted Williams (1.088).
HE SAID IT
"Walked away alive." -- Gonzalez, on Wilmer Flores' line drive back at him in the fifth. It got his glove and "a little piece" of the heel of his left hand. Gonzalez was checked out after throwing late to first, but he stayed in and retired Todd Frazier to end the inning.
Outside of nine strikeouts, Tanner Roark (1-1, 3.50 ERA) didn't have an overly impressive line in his no-decision against the Mets on April 8 at Nationals Park: five innings, five runs, five hits and four walks, including three straight before a grand slam by Adrian Gonzalez. Roark gets another chance against New York on Wednesday night in the 7:10 p.m. ET series finale at Citi Field, where the 31-year-old righty is 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA in nine games (six starts). Lefty Steven Matz (1-1, 3.77 ERA) will be on the mound for the Mets.
Brian Heyman is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.