Gio Gonzalez may be looking forward to just stepping on the mound. First, he'll need the weather to cooperate.
After having his start pushed back the past two days due to rain, Gonzalez looks to win for the first time in a month as the Nationals try again to open their three-game set with the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.
Gonzalez's named appeared in a January report involving an MLB investigation about performance-enhancing drugs linked to an anti-aging clinic in Miami. As many as 20 players could be suspended for using PEDs, but Gonzalez is expected to avoid punishment since he's linked to legal substances.
For now, the left-hander is simply trying to concentrate on baseball.
Gonzalez (3-3, 3.64 ERA) was scheduled to start Thursday's series finale against the New York Mets before it was rained out, then had his turn Friday postponed as Tropical Storm Andrea moves north along the East Coast.
"We came into spring training with this kind of cloud over the team, and Gio came in and took the reins and explained exactly what happened," reliever Tyler Clippard , who is also the team's union player representative, told the Nationals' official website. "He wanted to make sure that he explained it to his teammates, which he did. I think he explained to the media just as well as he explained it to us.
"For me, knowing Gio, knowing the kind of guy that he is, I believe him wholeheartedly. He has done it the right way, in my opinion."
Gonzalez, who finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting last year, has been superb over his last five starts. He's compiled a 2.14 ERA and limited opponents to a .190 average and one homer, but is 0-1 since the Nationals (29-30) have backed him with one run in four of those outings.
That was the theme again Saturday, when he yielded one run and three hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings of a 2-1 loss in 10 at Atlanta.
Making matters worse, Bryce Harper has suffered a setback in his return from a left knee injury and isn't expected to come off the disabled list in the immediate future."We've just got to get the swelling out. We've got to get the inflammation out of there," manager Davey Johnson said. "We haven't been real successful with our treatment here."
Gonzalez is 2-2 with a 2.96 ERA in his last four starts against the Twins (26-31), though he hasn't faced them since 2011 while with Oakland.
Justin Morneau has hit Gonzalez hard with two hits - both homers - in five career at-bats.
After winning seven of eight, Minnesota lost the last two of its three-game series at Kansas City, including a 7-3 defeat Thursday."It's a tough one to lose," losing pitcher Jared Burton said. "We needed this series."
Struggling right-hander Kevin Correia (5-4, 4.09) will try to get the Twins back on track Saturday.
Correia is 2-3 with a 6.09 ERA over his last six starts, surrendering six home runs in his last two.
He's 3-2 with a 3.65 ERA in six career outings against the Nationals.
Although Adam LaRoche is 7 for 23 with two homers and four doubles lifetime versus Correia, those home runs are his only hits in his last 14 at-bats against him.
The Twins have won seven of nine all-time meetings, but the teams haven't played since 2008.
|June 01, 2013||Justin Morneau||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|May 29, 2013||Trevor Plouffe||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 26, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||7-Day DL||Head injury|
|May 23, 2013||Pedro Florimon||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained right index finger|
|May 22, 2013||Trevor Plouffe||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|May 22, 2013||Trevor Plouffe||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 03, 2013||Danny Espinosa||15-Day DL||Broken bone in right wrist|
|June 01, 2013||Stephen Strasburg||15-Day DL||Strained right latissimus dorsi|
|May 31, 2013||Stephen Strasburg||Day-to-Day||Strained right lat|
|May 27, 2013||Bryce Harper||15-Day DL||Left knee bursitis|
|May 26, 2013||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Left game - Sore left knee|
|May 24, 2013||Danny Espinosa||Day-to-Day||Broken bone in right wrist|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- On a day that had already featured a pair of marathon games elsewhere in baseball and a doubleheader the next day, the Minnesota Twins and Washington Nationals needed to end extra innings in a hurry.
Ryan Doumit made sure they did.
Doumit singled in the go-ahead run, Joe Mauer homered, doubled and singled, and the Minnesota Twins defeated the Washington Nationals 4-3 in 11 innings Saturday.
"With a split doubleheader tomorrow, the last thing we need on both sides was to go deep into extra innings," Doumit said. "I was fortunate that I got a pitch to hit there in the 11th and put a good swing on it."
Josh Roenicke (2-1) pitched a scoreless 10th inning for the win and Glen Perkins retired Washington in the 11th for his 13th save.
"We executed some, missed on a couple opportunities, but you keep getting yourself those opportunities, somebody's going to get the big hit," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Today it was Doumit."
The Twins, who were playing their first game in Washington since 1971, have won eight of 11.
Pinch hitter Chris Hermann drew a walk off Craig Stammen (3-2) to open the 11th. Jamey Carroll bunted him to second and Mauer was intentionally walked. Doumit then hit a soft line drive to short center, scoring Hermann.
"It's a nice little cherry on top. I think anybody that kind of follows the game and has a good idea, you knew that that was going to happen," Doumit said of getting the hit after the walk to Mauer. "You knew that once Jamey bunted and Joe's a career .395 hitter or whatever he is."
Doumit has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, batting .319 (15 for 47) with three doubles, five home runs and 16 runs batted in.
"He's been swinging the bat really good and we had some opportunities," Gardenhire said.
Jayson Werth homered and former Twin Denard Span added three hits for Washington, which has lost two straight and six of eight. They've scored three runs or less in seven straight games.
"It's very frustrating," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "It's getting my dander up. We're better than this."
The Nationals collected 10 hits, but went just 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
"We got some hits, but didn't string them together," said Adam LaRoche . "We need to start getting three and four in an inning, pushing some guys across."
Trailing 3-2, the Nationals tied it against Twins starter Kevin Correia in the seventh.
Anthony Rendon led off with a single and was bunted to second. Kurt Suzuki hit a high bouncer that shortstop Pedro Florimon charged, but he was unable to come up with it and Rendon scored while Suzuki raced to second with a double as the ball rolled into left field.
"Whether he looked off of it or whatever, he just missed the ball. He's got to at least the put the glove on it," Gardenhire said.
Correia pitched 6 1-3 innings in his best start in over a month, allowing three earned runs on eight hits. He struck out a season-high seven and didn't walk a batter.
Mauer broke a 2-2 tie when he hit a solo homer off Washington starter Gio Gonzalez with one out in the fifth.
Gonzalez gave up three runs, two earned, on five hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out seven. He's winless in his last six starts despite allowing more than two earned runs only once during that stretch.
The Nationals broke on top in the third. Span singled with two outs and Werth lined a 1-2 pitch from Correia over the wall for his fifth home run.
Minnesota came back with two in the fourth. After Josh Willingham singled off Ryan Zimmerman 's glove, Justin Morneau hit a smash toward first that got by LaRoche. Willingham scored from first as the ball rolled to the right-field corner.
""I didn't make the play. I gave them that one, cost us the game," LaRoche said. "So that one's on me."
Morneau ended up on second on the error and, after Aaron Hicks walked, scored when Brian Dozier singled past a diving Zimmerman.
NOTES: The Twins last played in Washington on July 19, 1971, when they lost 5-2 to the Senators. The Minnesota franchise began play in 1901 as the original Washington Senators and left D.C. after the 1960 season. ... Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (right lat strain) threw a bullpen session Saturday. Manager Davey Johnson said Strasburg had no symptoms from the injury and is on track to throw a simulated game Tuesday in Colorado and start at Cleveland on June 16. ... Johnson said OF Bryce Harper (bursitis) reported the swelling in his left knee was down. Harper will see Dr. James Andrews on Monday for a second opinion on the ailing knee. . Mauer's homer was career number 100. ... Willingham's run was the 500th of his career. ... The Nationals' Ian Desmond extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... LHP Scott Diamond (4-4, 4.66) will start the opener of Sunday's day-night doubleheader for the Twins against RHP Jordan Zimmerman (8-3, 2.16). In the night game, a makeup of Friday's rainout, Minnesota's RHP Samuel Deduno (2-1, 3.44) will go against RHP Nate Karns (0-1, 6.00).