Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Left-handers Gio Gonzalez faces Erik Bedard tonight at Nationals Park.
Bedard is back on the mound tonight for the first time since that incident, facing the same Nationals lineup, which can only hope to enjoy more success against the lefty ... or whatever relievers end up in the game for Pittsburgh. Davey Johnson is going with a bunch of right-handed hitters, including Tyler Moore and Xavier Nady.
Gio Gonzalez, meanwhile, starts for the Nats, looking to bounce back from a shaky outing in Cincinnati on Friday. Gonzalez was dealing with a sore right hand that evening, the lingering effects of his awkward slide into third base his previous time out.
Updates to come, so please check back...
PITTSBURGH PIRATES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 187
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to CF
SS Ian Desmond
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Xavier Nady
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
LHP Gio Gonzalez
RF Jose Tabata
2B Neil Walker
CF Andrew McCutchen
1B Casey McGehee
LF Yamaico Navarro
C Rod Barajas
SS Clint Barmes
3B Josh Harrison
LHP Erik Bedard
HP Tony Randazzo, 1B Alan Porter, 2B Larry Vanover, 3B Brian Gorman (cc)
7:06 p.m. -- We are underway on Military Appreciation Night (hence the navy blue jerseys with the stars and stripes logo). Gio Gonzalez starts off Jose Tabata with a fastball for strike one.
7:11 p.m. -- Gio serves up a base hit to Andrew McCutchen -- then again, who doesn't? -- but otherwise is sharp during a 15-pitch top of the first. Struck out Casey McGehee on a 94 mph fastball to end the inning.
7:23 p.m. -- Well, that would've really been something, huh? Bryce Harper came up just short of his third home run in three days, crushing an Erik Bedard pitch off the scoreboard in right-center. He settled for his first career triple, then scored seconds later on Ryan Zimmerman's RBI groundout. So for those keeping track, Harper now has nine extra-base hits in 17 career games, giving him a robust .475 slugging percentage. More importantly, the Nats lead 1-0 after one.
7:31 p.m. -- Stop me if you've heard this one before: A Nats starting pitcher is striking out Pirates batters in bunches. Gio strikes out the side in the second and has now gotten four Ks in a row, all swinging.
7:42 p.m. -- Looks like Gio is on tonight. Retired the side again in the third, striking out Bedard (who actually started walking back to the dugout after strike two before realizing his mistake). Thirty-seven pitches (26 strikes) through three for the lefty. The Nats still lead 1-0.
7:52 p.m. -- Ian Desmond destroys a slow, 1-2 curveball from Bedard into the left-field bleachers for his fifth home run of the season. Yes, his .304 on-base percentage leaves plenty to be desired. But did you know that the only shortstop in the National League with a slugging percentage better than Desmond' .447 mark is Rafael Furcal? Nats up 2-0 through three.
7:59 p.m. -- Seriously, if I'm Gio tonight, I might very well just intentionally walk McCutchen four times and trust in the fact nobody else in this Pirates lineup can touch me. The lefty caught a break in the top of the fourth when McCutchen crushed a ball to the warning track in left, coming just short of a home run. He's the only one who's come close to doing anything at the plate tonight. Through four innings, Gonzalez has yet to allow a run and allowed only McCutchen's first-inning single.
8:17 p.m. -- At this moment -- as Clint Barmes whiffs at a fifth-inning pitch from Gio -- your co-NL leaders in strikeouts are Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, each with 56. Stop and think about all the pitch-to-contact guys who have come through D.C. over the last eight years and then appreciate what's going on here right now.
8:21 p.m. -- And now Gio takes the lead over Strasburg with strikeout No. 57 on the year. Unfortunately, it came moments after he served up an RBI single to Josh Harrison, who lined a single to center. Harper didn't get a good read of the ball and wound up getting there late, though I'm not sure he would've made the catch even if he took off as soon as the ball left Harrison's bat. Regardless, it's now 2-1 Nats heading to the bottom of the fifth.
8:35 p.m. -- Nine strikeouts for Gio through six innings. He's now tied with CC Sabathia for the MLB lead with 59. And the Nats have needed these tonight, because their offensive production has come to a grinding halt. Since giving up the Desmond homer, Bedard has retired nine in a row. So it remains 2-1 as Harper steps to the plate for the bottom of the sixth.
8:43 p.m. -- Bedard made it 11 in a row, seven via swinging strikeout, until Adam LaRoche and Xavier Nady took matters into their own hands. Back-to-back jacks from the Nationals' Nos. 4 and 5 hitters. LaRoche's shot landed in the right-field stands, his seventh of the year. Nady's landed way up in the left-field stands, his third of the year and second in his last four at-bats. Davey Johnson has been saying he needs to get Xavier's bat going. Well, I think we're seeing it happen before our eyes. It's now 4-1 in the sixth.
9:00 p.m. -- Uh-oh, Gio serves up a two-run homer to Josh Harrison, the Pirates' .188-hitting, No. 8 batter, on his 100th pitch of the night. All of a sudden it's 4-3 as we reach the seventh-inning stretch. If this score holds, I wouldn't be stunned if someone other than Henry Rodriguez pitches the ninth. Davey kind of left that door open earlier today when asked about H-Rod's availability. Made it sound like he might only use him in certain situations tonight (ie. if they're leading by three runs, not one).
9:16 p.m. -- You know what's a REALLY smart strategy right now? Loading the bases on walks for Adam LaRoche. And then leaving a right-hander in to face him. Guess what the result was: three-run double. That was the 1,000th career hit of LaRoche's career, and it earned him a standing ovation from the crowd of 25,942. It's 7-3 now as Tyler Clippard enters for the eighth.
9:32 p.m. -- Hmm, Clippard gives up a run in the top of the eighth, so that trims the lead to 7-4. And that gets Henry Rodriguez warming for the ninth.
9:40 p.m. -- Break out the Maalox and bourbon, everyone! Here comes H-Rod in a save situation.
9:50 p.m. -- See, piece of cake. Despite Barajas reaching on a Desmond error, H-Rod calmly struck out Barmes and got Harrison to ground into a game-ending, 5-4-3 double play to earn his ninth save in 12 tries. (We'll ignore the part where Ryan Mattheus was warming in the pen from the start of the inning). Nats win, 7-4.