That run has grown to a season-high seven games for the suddenly playoff-contending Nationals, and Gonzalez will try to reduce his club's deficit in the NL wild-card race by outdueling the Philadelphia Phillies ' Cole Hamels on Saturday night.
Gonzalez (10-6, 3.31 ERA) nearly pitched the franchise's first no-hitter in 22 years Monday against the New York Mets . The lone hit he allowed was Zach Lutz 's single in the seventh inning that hit the foul line behind first base.
Gonzalez, 3-0 with a 0.42 ERA in his last three starts, struck out eight and walked two in Washington's third straight victory.
"It's been a long time since Gio was aggressive on the mound like that," catcher Wilson Ramos told the team's website. "So it was impressive to get him back. Hopefully, he will stay like that for the rest of the season and the next couple of years that he will be here."
The Nationals (78-69) kept rolling Friday while adding to their dominance over the Phillies (68-79). Wilson Ramos homered and drove in three runs, and Ryan Zimmerman went 3 for 5 with a solo shot in a 6-1 victory.
Denard Span also extended his career-high hit streak to 24 games in Washington's sixth win in seven matchups against Philadelphia and eighth in the last nine home meetings. That victory and Cincinnati's 5-1 loss in Milwaukee cut the Nationals' deficit in the wild-card race to 4 1/2 games.
Gonzalez will try to boost his team's postseason hopes by improving on his 5-1 record and 2.22 ERA in seven career starts against the Phillies. The left-hander, though, needed some generous run support to earn a victory in his latest matchup Sept. 3.
Gonzalez gave up five runs - only one earned - over 5 2-3 innings in a 9-6 win.
"It's one of the ugly (games) I've seen," manager Davey Johnson told the team's website. "Gio had a real rough start. He threw a lot of pitches. He hung in there. (The fielders) were sloppy behind him."
Hamels (7-13, 3.45) will also try to extend a three-game win streak as Philadelphia looks to play spoiler. The left-hander has a 1.95 ERA in his last eight outings and has given up two hits in each of his last two, including a 3-2 victory over Washington on Sept. 2.
Hamels allowed a solo homer and a single in seven innings against the Nationals but did not get a decision. He gave up two solo shots in eight innings and struck out nine in a 3-2 victory over Atlanta on Sunday.
"The season is going to end really shortly, and if you don't take it serious, it all adds up," Hamels told the team's website. "Your stats and everything that you do, personality wise, is going to add up and it's going to translate into the future of how you play and what you expect out of yourself.
"Everybody has to try to take it serious and play all the way through."
Hamels is 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his last two starts against the Nationals but gave up five runs - three earned - over 6 1-3 innings in his only other visit to Washington this season, a 6-1 loss May 26.
Span, hitting .375 in his last six games against Philadelphia, is 3 for 10 all-time against Hamels but is 0 for 3 this season.
Washington's longest win streak in last year's NL East championship season was an eight-game run Aug. 4-11.
|August 30, 2013||Domonic Brown||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right Achilles|
|August 28, 2013||Cody Asche||Day-to-Day||Strained left hamstring|
|August 26, 2013||Casper Wells||15-Day DL||Vision complications|
|August 17, 2013||Michael Young||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore left ankle|
|August 15, 2013||John Lannan||60-Day DL||Left knee tendinitis|
|August 14, 2013||John Lannan||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|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|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's not every day a manager intentionally puts the potential winning run on base in the ninth inning against a red-hot offense.
Philadelphia rookie manager Ryne Sandberg did just that Saturday night against the Washington Nationals and went home a winner.
Reliever Jonathan Papelbon retired Wilson Ramos on hard grounder to short and the Phillies held on for a 5-4 win over the Nationals, snapping Washington's seven-game winning streak.
Ryan Zimmerman doubled off Papelbon to start the ninth. After Jayson Werth flied out and Ian Desmond popped out, Bryce Harper , who had singled in his previous at-bat, was walked intentionally.
"Just the better matchup," Sandberg said. "Sometimes Harper seems to make things happen, as he did earlier with the broken-bat base hit."
Ramos hit a smash toward short, but Jimmy Rollins threw him out to end the game and give Papelbon his 27th save.
"(Rollins) made a very nice read on that, retreating back," Sandberg said. "That was an in-between hop that he made a little bit longer. A heck of a play right there, it really was."
Carlos Ruiz had two doubles and three RBIs and John Mayberry homered for the Phillies.
The Nationals, who had scored three in the seventh to pull within 5-4, fell 5 1/2 games behind the Reds (winners in Milwaukee) for the second NL wild card.
"We're still fine, we've just got to win the games," manager Davey Johnson said. "Just got to keep winning."
Cole Hamels (8-13) won his fourth straight decision, allowing four runs, three earned, on eight hits in six-plus innings.
Washington's Denard Span went 3 for 5 to extend his hitting streak to 25 games and stole a career-high three bases.
Gio Gonzalez (10-7), coming off a one-hitter against the Mets, allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings.
"It's a tough loss right there, especially when these guys battled all the way to the end," Gonzalez said.
Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston , Span and Ryan Zimmerman singled to load the bases in the seventh and end Hamels' night.
Facing Justin De Fratus, Jayson Werth grounded to third and Cody Asche threw home for the out. Ian Desmond plated Span with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
Left-hander Cesar Jimenez came in to pitch to Harper and Harper blooped a single to center scoring Zimmerman. When center fielder Cesar Hernandez overran the ball, Harper went to second and Werth scored from first.
B.J. Rosenberg fanned Ramos on a called third strike.
Philadelphia took the lead in the fifth. With one out, Mayberry hit an 0-1 offering from Gonzalez into the visitors' bullpen to tie the score.
The Phillies weren't done as Hamels and Hernandez followed with singles. Rollins flied out, but Chase Utley walked to load the bases. After pitching coach Steve McCatty visited Gonzalez, Ruiz hit the left-hander's first pitch over Werth's head in right for a bases-clearing double.
"He's using the whole field. I mean the double down left field line his first at-bat. The double down the right-field line," Sandberg said. "He's the right guy up with men on base for us, for a month."
Since Aug. 8, Ruiz is batting .583 (14 for 24) with runners in scoring position, with six doubles and 19 RBIs.
"I'm not trying to do too much," Ruiz said. "Just put the ball in play and see what happens."
Utley added what turned out to be a crucial RBI-single in the seventh to make it 5-1.
Washington took the lead in the first. Span singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Werth's sacrifice fly.
NOTES: The Reds' win officially eliminated Philadelphia from playoff contention. ... Johnson said RHP Stephen Strasburg (forearm tightness) will play catch Sunday. If that goes well, the next step is a bullpen session Monday in anticipation of a start on Thursday, one day after what would have been his next regular turn. RHP Ross Ohlendorf , who started Friday in place of Strasburg, will start on Wednesday. ... LHP Ross Detwiler (back strain), on the disabled list since July 4, threw a bullpen session Saturday. Johnson said he'll throw one more before facing hitters in a simulated game or batting practice session. ... Phillies RHP Luis Garcia (bruised foot) was unavailable after being hit by a Wilson Ramos grounder Friday. ... Washington's Jordan Zimmerman (17-8, 3.36) opposes Tyler Cloyd (2-4, 4.56) in Sunday's series finale.