The Nationals will look for better results with their other All-Star pitcher on the hill.
Gio Gonzalez tries to win a fourth consecutive start and match the major league lead for wins Saturday as the NL East-leading Nationals hope to solve their woes against Colorado in the nation's capital.
Trying to extend the Nationals' four-game winning streak and season-best 5-0 run in D.C., Strasburg gave up three runs - all on Tyler Colvin 's two home runs - in Friday's 5-1 series-opening defeat."It's not a good feeling, but what can you do?" Strasburg said after losing a third consecutive start for the first time.
The Nationals (48-33) are also looking for answers as to why they've lost 11 of 14 at home to the Rockies (32-51) since 2008.
Making his final start of the first half, Gonzalez (11-3, 3.01 ERA) will try to tie New York's R.A. Dickey for baseball's lead in victories. However, the left-hander is coming off back-to-back rough outings.
Prior to walking four and yielding four runs in five-plus innings of Sunday's 8-4 victory over Atlanta, Gonzalez surrendered five runs in six innings of a 12-5 road win over Colorado on June 26. He also gave up two homers - half his season total - as he made his first appearance against the Rockies, the NL leaders with 102 home runs.
Colvin has been the biggest long ball threat lately, hitting five in the last five games after becoming the first player to go deep off Strasburg twice in the same contest.
"For some reason, we've been making more mistake pitches to him than the other guys," Strasburg said of Colvin, who is batting .588 (10 for 17) with three homers and nine RBIs in four games versus Washington in 2012.
Jeff Francis (2-1, 5.16) benefited from a three-run Colvin homer in his last outing, Tuesday's 3-2 win at St. Louis.
The left-hander threw five innings of two-run ball in his sixth start since rejoining the club June 9 as a free agent.
If Francis can match a career high by winning a third consecutive start, he'll tie Jason Jennings for second in team history with 58 victories."I love being here, I love playing for this team," Francis said. "For them to give me a shot, so far I've pitched well and taken advantage of it. Hopefully, it sticks."
Colorado has won each of his last five outings, including a 4-2 victory over the visiting Nationals on June 25 when he struck out five in five innings.
Francis needs to be careful pitching to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman , who is batting .333 with five homers and 17 RBIs in his last 12 games. His ninth-inning homer Friday prevented Washington, which had scored 32 runs in its previous four games, from getting shut out at home for the first time in 2012.
Zimmerman is 9 for 18 with a homer and three doubles off Francis.
All-Star left fielder Carlos Gonzalez has hit safely in all five games against Washington this season, going 10 for 19 with three doubles and six runs scored.
He has two hits - including a double - in three at-bats versus Gonzalez.
|July 04, 2012||Jason Giambi||Day-to-Day||Stiff back|
|June 17, 2012||Carlos Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Sore right hamstring|
|June 03, 2012||Juan Nicasio||15-Day DL||Strained left knee|
|June 02, 2012||Jordan Pacheco||Day-to-Day||Sore left quadricep|
|June 02, 2012||Juan Nicasio||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left knee|
|May 31, 2012||Troy Tulowitzki||15-Day DL||Strained left groin muscle|
|July 01, 2012||Chien-Ming Wang||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|June 30, 2012||Stephen Strasburg||Day-to-Day||Left game - heat exhaustion|
|June 24, 2012||Xavier Nady||15-Day DL||Right wrist tendinitis|
|June 17, 2012||Ian Desmond||Day-to-Day||Oblique soreness|
|June 11, 2012||Roger Bernadina||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right hamstring|
|June 10, 2012||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Sore back|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Gio Gonzalez knew he wasn't going back to the mound after throwing 102 pitches in 101-degree heat.
The game was tied in the middle of the sixth inning, so if Gonzalez was to get his 12th win of the season, the Washington Nationals needed to score against the Colorado Rockies before making three outs.
And that's precisely what happened.
Gonzalez pitched six innings of three-hit ball, and the Nationals used a three-run sixth to post a 4-1 victory Saturday.
Gonzalez (12-3) won his fourth straight start to move into a tie with R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets for the major league lead in wins. He allowed one run, walked three and struck out six.
Gonzalez matched Livan Hernandez for most wins by a Nationals pitcher before the All-Star break. Were it not for the productive sixth inning, it never would have happened for the hard-throwing lefty who's headed to the All-Star game for a second time.
"He didn't want to leave with the game tied," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "I said `You're done. You're not talking me out of nothing and we'll get you a win right here.' Thank goodness we got him the win. He pitched great."
Gonzalez's desire to stay in the game had nothing to do with personal goals. He simply wanted a win, and figured he was best equipped to pull it off.
"It's an honor to know the team won today," he said. "That's all that matters to me. It was a team win."
Obtained in an offseason trade with Oakland, Gonzalez has been everything the Nationals could have possibly wanted.
"I don't know what kind of run support he got there in Oakland, but he's certainly been stingy giving up runs and hits here," Johnson said. "He's been very consistent. He's been fun to watch."
It was the fifth victory in six games for the Nationals, who own the best record in the NL. The only loss in that span came Friday night against Colorado in a game started by Washington's Stephen Strasburg .
Only once this season have the Nationals lost successive games started by Strasburg and Gonzalez, on April 28-29 against the Dodgers, but through five innings this was anyone's game.
Danny Espinosa led off the sixth with a double off Jeff Francis (2-2). After a single by Bryce Harper put runners on the corners, Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI single off Josh Roenicke .
On a wild pitch, Zimmerman took off for second. Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario 's throw was off target, and the error enabled Harper to score from third.
Later in the inning, Zimmerman came home on an errant pickoff throw by Roenicke.
After Gonzalez left, three Washington relievers allowed three hits over three innings. Tyler Clippard worked the ninth for his 14th save.
Colorado finished with four errors, tying a season high. Dexter Fowler had three hits for the Rockies, who have lost six of eight and totaled 14 runs in their last seven games.
"Today wasn't so much about pitching as it was our lack of offense and the fact that we threw the ball around a little bit in the sixth inning," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said. "When you get six hits in a game and one guy gets three of them, there's not a tremendous amount of offensive opportunity."
Ian Desmond made it 1-0 in the second inning with his 16th home run, a drive that barely cleared the right-field scoreboard. The shortstop has five homers and 13 RBIs over his last 12 games.
During the game, however, the team announced Desmond would miss Tuesday's All-Star game with a left oblique strain. He has been dealing with the injury since mid-June and will use the break to rest.
"It's definitely a tough decision, one that we spent quite a few days kind of mulling over," Desmond said. "But in the end I think it's best for the team and best for myself to take the rest. I would hate to be two, three weeks down the road and something happened and I didn't take the four days to rest my body and put the team first."
Colorado tied it in the fourth. Michael Cuddyer hit a leadoff double, moved to third on a groundout and scored with a headfirst slide on rookie Jordan Pacheco 's sacrifice fly to right.
Both teams got a runner into scoring position in the fifth. Colorado wasted a two-out double by Fowler, and the Nationals came up empty after opening the bottom half with successive singles by Desmond and Tyler Moore .
NOTES: Harper was named to the All-Star team as a replacement for Miami's Giancarlo Stanton . ... Zimmerman has 18 RBIs over his last 13 games. ... Fowler is on a 7-for-12 run over his last three games. ... Jordan Zimmermann (5-6) takes the mound for the Nationals in the series finale against the Rockies and right-hander Jeremy Guthrie , who's 3-8 with a 6.28 ERA but 2-1 with a 2.34 ERA lifetime against Washington. ... Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.