The Washington Nationals know time is running out to make a late run to the wild card.
They'll try to win their third straight game and fifth in six overall Monday when they visit the New York Mets .
The reigning NL East champ, Washington (73-69) gave itself a chance late last month, winning eight of nine before the Mets (64-77) took two of three in the nation's capital. The Nationals won the last two games of their three-game set with Miami, capped with Sunday's 6-4 victory as Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 19 games - the longest active streak in the majors.
"I liked the way our lineup's swinging the bat," manager Davey Johnson told the team's official website. "We just need to continue. We can't afford to have any lapses. We've got to win them all."
Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.49 ERA) will try to keep Washington's momentum going against one of his favorite foes as he tries to win a third straight start. He overcame three errors Wednesday against Philadelphia, giving up five runs - one earned - in 5 2-3 innings of a 9-6 victory."I was a little uncomfortable the whole game," Gonzalez said. "They were being patient and I wasn't pounding the strike zone. A win doesn't have to be pretty, but just a win."
He was just the opposite versus the Mets on June 30, scattering three hits and two walks in seven shutout innings of a 13-2 rout for his fourth straight win over them. Gonzalez did not get a decision against New York on April 20, allowing five runs and five hits with four walks in four innings of a 7-6 victory.
Gonzalez, who has walked three-plus batters in four straight starts after only doing so once in his prior 10, has gotten 24 runs over his last three starts after receiving nine over his prior six.
Carlos Torres (3-3, 2.89 ERA) has been solid in all but one of his five starts for the Mets, getting tagged for eight runs and nine hits in three innings of a 14-1 loss at Washington on July 28. He has yielded only six runs in 24 2-3 innings in his other four starts.
"That's baseball," Torres said. "Unfortunately, baseball usually comes down to one or two pitches, one or two at-bats, and that's the way it goes."
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos , who hit a grand slam off Torres in that July victory, is hitting .442 in 24 games lifetime versus the Mets. He went 3 for 5 with a solo homer Sunday. Jayson Werth has gone 13 for 28 in Washington's eight wins over New York but only 3 for 26 with 10 strikeouts in the seven losses.
Eric Young went 2 for 4 and had a go-ahead RBI double in the ninth Sunday to lift New York to a 2-1 victory over Cleveland. He is 15 for 40 (.375) with nine runs scored in his last 10 games.
|September 08, 2013||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Left hip soreness|
|August 22, 2013||Ian Desmond||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|August 17, 2013||Taylor Jordan||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|August 13, 2013||Wilson Ramos||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|August 11, 2013||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Right knee|
|August 01, 2013||Ross Ohlendorf||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|New York Mets|
|September 01, 2013||Ike Davis||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right oblique|
|August 27, 2013||Matt Harvey||15-Day DL||Torn right UCL - out for season|
|August 26, 2013||Matt Harvey||Day-to-Day||Torn right elbow ligament|
|August 18, 2013||Jenrry Mejia||60-Day DL||Right elbow discomfort|
|August 17, 2013||Jenrry Mejia||Day-to-Day||Right elbow discomfort|
|August 10, 2013||Jeremy Hefner||15-Day DL||Partially torn ligament, right elbow|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Gio Gonzalez came about as close as a pitcher can to a no-hitter.
The left-hander would up inches away in a one-hitter Monday night and the Washington Nationals hit five home runs, including long balls by their first two batters in a 9-0 rout of the New York Mets .
"It was a great performance," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He was throwing everything over - change, curve, fastball. It was fun to watch."
Gonzalez held the overmatched Mets hitless into the seventh before pinch-hitter Zach Lutz broke up the bid with a soft single. Lutz swung at the first pitch of the inning and sliced a looper that landed on the first base line, taking out a chunk of chalk well behind the bag for New York's lone hit.
"Off the end of the bat," Lutz said. "It was good luck."
First baseman Adam LaRoche made a diving attempt as the ball hit the dirt, but it squirted by and into foul territory along the right field line. First base umpire John Hirschbeck correctly called it fair, and Gonzalez (10-6) paused behind the mound to stare in that direction.
"LaRoche came over to me and said, `I'm sick to my stomach.' All the guys came over and said the same thing," said Gonzalez, who won 21 games last season and finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting.
After the hit, Gonzalez kept sailing along in a dominant outing. He struck out eight and walked two for his second career shutout and fourth complete game, improving to 5-0 in six starts against the Mets since last year's All-Star break.
Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman hit back-to-back homers to start the game. Jayson Werth and Tyler Moore also connected off Carlos Torres (3-4), roughed up by Washington for the second time in six weeks.
Wilson Ramos added a three-run shot off reliever Greg Burke .
The five home runs were the most a team has hit in one game at Citi Field, which opened in 2009.
Handed a huge lead, Gonzalez was in cruise control as he won his third straight start. He faced three batters more than the minimum to help the Nationals, on the fringe of the NL wild-card chase, win their third in a row and fifth in six games.
The only ball the Mets hit hard was a line drive to shortstop by Juan Lagares in the fifth. Gonzalez walked his second batter and penultimate one.
"Fortunately, we put a ball in play where no one was at so we go home at least knowing we didn't get no-hit," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Obviously, we feel very fortunate."
Washington gave Gonzalez a two-run lead before he took the mound, hitting two homers on Torres' first eight pitches.
Span's shot to right field was his sixth career leadoff homer and first for the Nationals this season. It also extended his hitting streak to 20 games, the longest active run in the majors.
Zimmerman followed with a drive to left-center for his fourth home run in three days and sixth in the last seven games.
It marked the third time this season that a team hit back-to-back homers to begin a game, according to STATS. Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran did it for St. Louis on April 26 against Pittsburgh, and Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout connected for the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 6 against Texas.
Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper were the last Nationals pair to achieve the feat on June 3, 2012, against Atlanta. The previous time the Mets served up homers to the first two batters in a game was June 28, 2003, when Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter went deep for the Yankees, STATS said.
"That was the first time I had ever seen it," Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud said.
Span singled in the third, Zimmerman walked and Werth hit a three-run shot to left-center.
Moore opened the fourth with a long drive to straightaway center, making it 6-0. Ramos connected in the fifth, and the only drama left was Gonzalez's pursuit of a no-hitter.
Torres gave up six runs and five hits in four innings. He's made four solid starts for the Mets and turned in two duds against the Nationals, including their 14-1 rout on July 28.
NOTES: Collins confirmed that injured closer Bobby Parnell will have season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. The team hopes Parnell will be ready for spring training. ... Harper sat out again with a sore left hip. Scratched from the lineup Saturday in Miami, Harper was examined by team doctors in Washington, and Johnson said tests showed inflammation but no structural damage. The 20-year-old slugger will take oral medication and miss at least the first two games of the series. ... Johnson said RHP Tanner Roark will start the series finale Thursday. ... Span had three hits. ... Gonzalez's other shutout was a five-hitter against St. Louis on Aug. 31 last year. ... The 70-year-old Johnson has said this will be his final season as a major league manager, so this series marks his last scheduled visit to Queens, where he piloted the Mets to the 1986 World Series title at old Shea Stadium. He said it's always fun to come back, but he feels "too young to retire" and wouldn't be averse to some sort of challenging baseball job in the future.