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Hitting lowlight: Stop us if you've heard this one before: The Nationals couldn't deliver a clutch hit in several big spots in the
game. It's a nightly story for this team, and it keeps repeating itself. Harper's third-inning solo homer produced the Nats' only run of the game, though they had other opportunities. They had two on and one out in the fifth after Harper's plunking, but Ryan Zimmerman flied out and Jayson Werth popped out. And then they loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, only to watch as Adam LaRoche grounded a 2-0 pitch from left-hander Luis Avilan to first to end the inning and leave the crowd of 30,875 muttering to itself yet again.
Pitching highlight: Lost amid the mid-game fireworks was a very strong outing by Gonzalez. Six days removed from his disaster of an outing in Detroit, the left-hander dominated early, retiring the first eight batters he faced, three via strikeout. Gonzalez did slip up in the fifth, and it proved costly. With two outs and two out, he served up a 2-run single to Evan Gattis, giving the Braves their only two runs of the night off him. Gonzalez did bounce back after that, holding Atlanta scoreless through the seventh and departing with a quality start on his ledger. He certainly deserved a better fate, not to mention some run support.
Key stat: Harper's 23.66-second home-run trot tonight was the slowest of his career, though still considerably faster than Justin Upton's 27.36-second trot from Monday night.
Up next: The series concludes at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday when Jordan Zimmermann seeks his 14th win of the season and Kris Medlen seeks his ninth.