SAN DIEGO -- Giovany Gonzalez overcame a cumbersome first inning to pitch into the seventh Sunday, guiding the Nationals to a 4-1 victory over the Padres as they took three of four games at Petco Park.Gonzalez threw 32 pitches in the first, the result of a pair of singles and
SAN DIEGO -- Giovany Gonzalez overcame a cumbersome first inning to pitch into the seventh Sunday, guiding the Nationals to a 4-1 victory over the Padres as they took three of four games at Petco Park.
Gonzalez threw 32 pitches in the first, the result of a pair of singles and Wilmer Difo's two-out error that brought in a run. From there, Gonzalez baffled the Padres, finishing his day having allowed one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings, while striking out eight on a season-high 121 pitches.
"Just tried to stick with the same game plan," Gonzalez said. "... As soon as Matt Wieters and I settled in, we tried to make more contact, more ground balls, some routine fly balls."
The Nationals tied the game against Padres right-hander Dinelson Lamet in the third when Gonzalez walked to begin the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Daniel Murphy. Alejandro De Aza, who lost a fly ball in the sun in the second inning, forcing extra pitches from Gonzalez, bunted for a single to begin the fifth and stole second. Murphy drove him in with a single to right, ending Lamet's outing after 4 2/3 innings.
Adam Lind followed with an RBI double, tagging Lamet with a third run. In his shortest outing since July 18, Lamet issued a career-high six walks, but also struck out eight and allowed three or fewer hits for the fifth straight start.
"When [Lamet] gets off with his fastball, his slider gets him back on," Padres manager Andy Green said. "Today, for some reason he stayed fastball-dominant for a long period of time. The way he uses the slider gets him back in line, but he struggled. You appreciate his stuff and his fastball, but at the same time, he has to mix it up, as well."
The Nationals added an unearned run in the eighth, providing an extra run for a group of relievers that was effective throughout the series. Joe Blanton, Brandon Kintzler and Sean Doolittle combined for 2 1/3 scoreless, with Doolittle striking out the side in the ninth to improve to 11-for-11 in save opportunities with Washington. In the series, Washington's revamped bullpen allowed two runs in 11 innings, but Nationals manager Dusty Baker said they lacked depth in the 'pen Sunday, making Gonzalez's outing more crucial.
"He took one for the team," Baker said. "We needed him to go as deep as he did. We were thinking about it around the fifth and the sixth, but we needed some innings. We couldn't fill those innings. So that was an outstanding performance for Gio."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Two pitches, two outs: Gonzalez needed to be efficient to work deep into the game after the lengthy first. He entered the sixth having thrown 97 pitches, but William Myers and Cory Spangenberg both made outs on the first pitch they saw, helping Gonzalez pitch into the seventh. More >
"Pitch count was up," Gonzalez said. "You learn there's always that one time you're going to have to pitch one more and save one more out or one more inning for the bullpen."
BB to GG: Of Lamet's six walks, the most damaging was arguably the one he issued to Gonzalez to begin the third. Lamet struggled to find the strike zone against the opposing pitcher, leading to a six-pitch base-on-balls. Gonzalez scored the game-tying run on Murphy's sacrifice fly after Difo doubled for the Nationals' first hit. More >
"That was a three-car pileup at second base, but we got the double play." -- Murphy, on the Nationals' eighth-inning double play that left him and San Diego's Yangervis Solarte on the ground
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his 20th quality start, Gonzalez tied Red Sox ace Chris Sale for the most in the Majors.
MURPHY BENEFITS FROM DAY OFF
Murphy didn't play Saturday, Washington's only loss of the series. But in his return Sunday, he played revitalized.
Murphy played in eight straight leading into the day off, hitting .231 during that stretch, but the All-Star second baseman went 1-for-2 with a walk and drove in a pair. Baker said Murphy seemed to regain concentration, adding his swing looked faster, as well.
"I think each time you're able to take a day off, as much physically, I think mentally as well, too, you get to come in and just know you're not going to the post," Murphy said. "So, yeah, I felt like I had a little more energy out there today."
Nationals: After an off-day, right-hander Tanner Roark takes the mound Tuesday in Houston for an 8:10 p.m. ET matchup with the Astros. He has pitched at least six innings in five of his past six starts, posting a 3.13 ERA in that span.
Padres: Left-hander Clayton Richard will start Tuesday in St. Louis, coming off a shutout in his last outing. The Cardinals have won six straight against the Padres after taking the season series, 6-1, in 2016. Game time is set for 7:15 p.m. CT.
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Tim Powers is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.
Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. He covered the Nationals on Sunday.