CHICAGO -- Miguel Gonzalez came up big in his return to the White Sox rotation, throwing six innings of one-run ball in a 3-1 victory against the Nationals on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. It was the first win for Gonzalez since July 25, 2015, snapping a streak of
CHICAGO -- Miguel Gonzalez came up big in his return to the White Sox rotation, throwing six innings of one-run ball in a 3-1 victory against the Nationals on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. It was the first win for Gonzalez since July 25, 2015, snapping a streak of 14 starts without a victory.
Gonzalez was perfect through four innings before Daniel Murphy led off the fifth with a home run to right field. But the right-hander was undeterred, escaping a big jam in the sixth and finishing his six-inning outing having given up three hits and no walks with five strikeouts. Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson combined for three scoreless innings to finish the job.
"[Gonzalez] was fantastic," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Murphy got him for the homer, but I just thought he was in control, in the strike zone, taking a little off. It's what we needed. If anything, the way the last few days have gone for us, you need some length and you need a guy to shut them down. I think he did all of that."
The Chicago righty was the better Gonzalez on the mound, as Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez struggled through the first inning, where he allowed all three runs. The Washington lefty recovered to go seven, but the Nationals' lineup finally went cold, ending Washington's three-game win streak.
• Gonzalez boosts White Sox in return to rotation
"To come in here and take two of three against a ballclub that's right in the thick of it in the AL Central is a good series for us," Murphy said. "We'll be excited to get home."
The White Sox avoided a series sweep and won for the first time in six games, moving to 30-30 after they fell below .500 for the first time this season Wednesday.
"[We needed the win] big time," catcher Dioner Navarro said. "Bad. We've been scuffling. We are in a bad spot right now. But we know what it takes. We know what we have to do. We've just got to continue to do it. Baby steps, so hopefully we keep doing what we've been doing, what we did tonight."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Two-out tear: Want to snap a losing streak? Getting two-out hits is a good way to start. The White Sox did that in the first inning, taking advantage of two walks and turning them into runs when Melky Cabrera doubled to right to score Austin Jackson and Jose Abreu. Brett Lawrie followed with a double to left to bring home Cabrera and give Chicago a 3-0 lead.
"That's kind of the boost you need early on," Ventura said. "I wish we would have [done] a little more as the game went on, but Gio was good for them."
Step in right direction: Gio Gonzalez had struggled through his previous three outings, where he posted a 10.34 ERA and surrendered a .357 average to opposing batters. It looked as if he would be in for more of the same after a shaky first. But Gonzalez settled in and retired the next 11 consecutive batters. He did not allow another run, completing seven innings with a season-high 10 strikeouts.
"I've got to get on the ball right off the bat. That first inning, that's how it goes sometimes," Gonzalez said. "That's why you have to be aggressive right out of the chute. Just one inning too late."
Play at the plate: Miguel Gonzalez got out of the sixth thanks mainly to great glovework from shortstop Tyler Saladino. With no outs and runners on second and third, Chris Heisey hit a hard grounder to Saladino, who made a backhand stab and came up throwing home from medium depth. Saladino's throw beat Jose Lobaton to the plate, and Navarro applied the tag to save a run and get the key out of the inning. Jayson Werth followed with an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
"I think with the catcher running home, it is a little risky, but it ends up being the right play and the one that really saves us in the end," Ventura said.
"Usually they don't even try when the infield's back like that," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "That was a gutsy play by him. If he doesn't, if he doesn't throw that ball there or he's safe, who knows, we might be off to the races."
Cold at the plate: The Nationals had scored 31 runs in their previous three games, but could not get anything going. They were held without a hit through the first four innings, until Murphy's home run. Washington only had five baserunners.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The White Sox ended Gio Gonzalez's 31-game first-inning scoreless streak. Gonzalez had not allowed a first-inning run since June 4, 2015, against the Cubs.
In the sixth, the White Sox challenged that Lobaton was tagged out at third base by Todd Frazier and after a review, the call was confirmed.
Nationals: The Nats return home after a nine-game road trip to begin a three-game series with the Phillies on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg (9-0, 2.85) will try to improve upon his unbeaten record and continue a personal 12-game winning streak that dates back to last seasson.
White Sox: Lefty ace Chris Sale makes his fourth bid for win No. 10 when he opens a weekend series against the Royals on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Sale is 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA in his past three starts.
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Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the White Sox on Thursday.
Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamalcollier.