Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats face the Braves one more time at overheated Turner Field.
Like Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez has been preparing for this for several days, knowing what the conditions were going to be like here. The Miami native hopes to fare better than his San Diegan teammate did.
By the time this game begins, Strasburg, Gonzalez, Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper and Tyler Clippard will know whether they've been named to this year's All-Star team. It should be a cool scene inside the clubhouse as multiple players learn their fates. Check back for a full report on that, and please check back for game updates throughout...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 50, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Partly cloudy, 101 degrees, Wind 3 mph out to RF
2B Steve Lombardozzi
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
CF Rick Ankiel
C Jhonatan Solano
LHP Gio Gonzalez
CF Michael Bourn
LF Martin Prado
RF Jason Heyward
3B Chipper Jones
2B Dan Uggla
1B Freddie Freeman
SS Andrelton Simmons
C David Ross
RHP Tim Hudson
HP Tim McClelland (cc), 1B Brian Runge, 2B Ted Barrett, 3B Marvin Hudson
1:35 p.m. -- OK, we're underway on a 101-degree afternoon, but the Nats dugout is all smiles after learning they've got at least three (and possibly four) All-Stars. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Ian Desmond have all been named to the NL club, and Bryce Harper will be up for the "Final Vote" in what should be a fascinating competition between a retiring 40-year-old and a rookie 19-year-old. Read my full story, with quotes from Strasburg.
1:48 p.m. -- And how did the Nationals celebrate their new All-Star celebrity? By scoring four runs in the top of the first inning off Tim Hudson. Base hits for Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper got it started, then Ryan Zimmerman drove both guys in with a double to deep right-center. Zim wound up scoring on Adam LaRoche's sacrifice fly. Then Rick Ankiel drove in All-Star Ian Desmond with a base hit up the middle that was butchered by Michael Bourn (who won't be winning the Final Vote competition). What a start to the afternoon for the Nats, who now send All-Star Gio Gonzalez to the mound with a 4-0 lead.
2:17 p.m. -- Gio got himself in trouble in the bottom of the second, loading the bases with two outs (two of them via walks, including Hudson). But he got Bourn to line out to Desmond to end the inning. So it remains 4-0 through two.
2:36 p.m. -- Strasburg needed 67 pitches to get through three innings yesterday, and Gio needed 74 pitches to get through three innings today. Not the kind of efficiency you're looking for out of starters on ridiculously hot days like this. The Braves got to Gonzalez for one run in the bottom of the third, with Chipper Jones roping an RBI double into the right-field corner (helping his cause in the Final Vote competition). It's now 4-1 heading to the fourth.
2:58 p.m. -- Barkeep, another round of cortisone shots for me and my friends! Ryan Zimmerman demolishes a 1-1 pitch from Hudson waaaaay back into the left-field stands. He's now 13-for-35 with three homers, four doubles and 12 RBI in eight games since the cortisone shot. And the Nats now lead 5-1.
3:15 p.m. -- Make it 6-1 as All-Star Ian Desmond leads off the sixth with a double, takes third on a wild pitch and then scores when Solano's hard grounder to first eats up Freddie Freeman. Gio Gonzalez coming back out for the bottom of the sixth, his pitch count already at 98.
3:25 p.m. -- Well, that didn't go so well. Gio immediately walked Chipper and Uggla, bringing Steve McCatty out of the dugout for a chat. His pitch count was at 109, but Davey Johnson let him stay in to face Freddie Freeman. Big mistake. Gonzalez left a 2-2 fastball over the plate and Freeman blasted it to right for a three-run homer. Gio is done after 114 pitches, and Craig Stammen is in, now trying to protect a 6-4 lead.
3:57 p.m. -- Nice job by Stammen to keep this a two-run game. He retired the side in the sixth after replacing Gonzalez, then pitched around a one-out double to Prado in the seventh. It remains 6-4 Nats.
4:14 p.m. -- And a nice job by Sean Burnett to get out of a self-made jam in the bottom of the eighth, striking out David Ross and getting Matt Diaz to ground into a fielder's choice. We go to the ninth.
4:26 p.m. -- Hey, it's another RBI single for Zimmerman! He's now 14-for-37 with three homers, four doubles and 13 RBI over his last eight games. It's 7-4 now. Make it 8-4 as Tyler Moore legs one out to avoid a double play and allow Harper to score.
4:38 p.m. -- It's over. The Nats win, 8-4, as Gio Gonzalez improves to 11-3 and Ryan Zimmerman drives in four more runs.