PITTSBURGH -- Nationals left-hander Giovany Gonzalez formed a sort of bond with catcher Matt Wieters since he signed with Washington at the start of last season, often crediting his catcher with his success and leaning on him for guidance while on the mound. It makes the Nationals hopeful that Wieters'
PITTSBURGH -- Nationals left-hander Giovany Gonzalez formed a sort of bond with catcher Matt Wieters since he signed with Washington at the start of last season, often crediting his catcher with his success and leaning on him for guidance while on the mound. It makes the Nationals hopeful that Wieters' return will coincide with a return to form for Gonzalez.
Even though the Nats got the results they were looking for from Gonzalez, who tossed six innings of two-run ball, they lost to the Pirates, 2-0, on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park. Washington's offense was blanked yet again, marking the ninth time the Nats have been shut out since the start of June. They were held scoreless just seven times all of last season.
"Consistency is the name of the game," manager Dave Martinez said. "You just got to be consistent. We've seen a lot: One day we hit and score a lot, and one day we don't."
While Wieters was on the disabled list, Gonzalez scuffled to an 8.44 ERA in June where he routinely struggled to pitch deep into games. He was much more efficient Wednesday afternoon, needing just 89 pitches to complete six innings and issuing just one walk. Gonzalez made just one mistake, which was punished for a two-run homer by Starling Marte in the third inning, but that was his lone blemish before he was removed for a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
"He looked real good," Martinez said. "That's the Gio that I know."
Gonzalez was also very encouraged by his outing, and he added, "It was just a really good step in the right direction."
The recent ineffectiveness of Gonzalez and right-hander Tanner Roark have prompted questions of whether the Nationals need to acquire another starting pitcher, but the Nats' issues do not end on the mound. They dropped two out of three to a middling Pirates team facing its own decision of whether to buy or sell at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Washington has now dropped 20 of its past 29 games and has not won consecutive series since the end of May.
"It is a little frustrating," Wieters said. "But we have an offense that can put up four or five runs a game and rely on our starting pitching like Gio did today. We just have to stay the course and keep working, and it will turn around soon."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Perhaps the Nats' best scoring chance came in the third inning when Gonzalez began the frame with a leadoff double with the heart of the order looming. But the Nats did not threaten past that as Adam Eaton, Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon were retired in order by Pirates starter Trevor Williams as Gonzalez remained stranded at second.
"He leads off with a double, we got some momentum there," Martinez said. "You think you're going to score a run. You got the right guys up there. Just didn't happen today."
HE SAID IT
"It's a huge boost of confidence. Just getting back on the same page. I like to put it like this -- let him call the game, let him go out there and see what he needs to see on pitches on certain things." -- Gonzalez, on working with Wieters
The Nats close out the first half with a four-game series with the Mets, beginning Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Max Scherzer takes the mound for his first outing against New York this season. He has not been his usual dominant self in two starts this month with a 4.85 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 13 innings. Left-hander Steven Matz will be on the mound for the Mets.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.