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Gio leads Nats past Rockies

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Gio leads Nats past Rockies

For Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, a native of Hialeah, Florida, triple-digit heat and humidity is just part of the game of baseball. On Saturday afternoon he battled through 102 pitches in record heat, but left with his 12th victory of the season in the Nationals 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies in front of 28,032 on South Capitol St.

In Florida we know that heat. I was just trying to adapt to it and keep going. Ive lost a ton of weight from it, but at the same time I got my liquids in me, thats for sure. Just got to keep fighting right through it, he said.

Gonzalez left after the sixth inning with the game tied at one. He allowed just one run on three hits and struck out six, all along the way tying Livan Hernandez for the Nationals record for wins heading into the All-Star break. He is now tied with R.A. Dickey for the major league lead.

I dont know what kind of run support he got over there in Oakland, but hes been stingy giving up runs here, and hits, manager Davey Johnson said. Hes been very consistent. Hes been fun to watch. My whole staffs been fun to watch. But these last two times out, in the heat, hes pitched well. Against very good offensive clubs.

Gonzalez only earned run came in the fourth inning. Michael Cuddyer led off with a double down the third base line, a hard grounder that found its way just under the glove of a diving Ryan Zimmerman. Cuddyer then advanced to third on a fielders choice by Gonzalez. He was brought home by Jordan Pacheco on a sacrifice fly to right field, a play that ended close at home on a throw attempted by Michael Morse.

Despite allowing one run, the Rockies made solid contact on Gonzalez throughout his outing. He benefitted from some good defense including diving stops by Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche.

It was unbelievable that each one of these guys came in today with hot weather and they still came out and competed. They did a great job. I was just doing my best to just keep us along in the game and save the arms in the bullpen, he said.

Gonzalez was relieved by Ryan Mattheus who struck out the side in the seventh inning. Sean Burnett escaped the eighth with a runner in scoring position and Tyler Clippard earned his 13th save of the season after allowing two to reach base.

Even though the last two innings were made interesting, Gonzalez said he never doubts the men behind him.

Each one of those guys are All-Stars in my mind and Im honored to have them right behind me. Every time they come in there it almost feels like you can close your eyes and guarantee it.

The Nationals took the lead initially off an Ian Desmond solo homer to right-center field in the second inning. It was Desmonds 16th of the year which ranks sixth in the National League and tops all N.L. shortstops.

Washington scored their other three runs in the sixth inning during an interesting sequence with relief pitcher Josh Roenicke on the mound. Rockies starter Jeff Francis started the inning and let up a leadoff double by Danny Espinosa off the out-of-town scoreboard. He then allowed a floating single by Harper to move Espinosa to third, Harper almost got caught going for a double on the play but reached first safe because no one was covering the bag.

Roenicke replaced Francis to face Zimmerman who quickly pelted a line drive into left-center field. Espinosa scored on the play and Harper advanced to third. Then, on a wild pitch by Roenicke, catcher Wilin Rosario attempted to pickoff a stealing Zimmerman. The throw was off, Zimmmerman was safe, and Harper reached home for the teams third run.

Ian Desmond grounded to second later in the inning and was safe at first as the Rockies couldnt pull the double play on he and a walked Adam LaRoche. Roenicke, Desmonds brother-in-law, then tried to pick off Desmond at first. Zimmerman, who was standing at third, scored the teams fourth run as the ball got past Cuddyer at first.

The Nationals took the win and now sit at 49-33 on the season. They will go for the series win on Sunday afternoon with Jordan Zimmermann on the mound against Jeremy Guthrie of the Rockies. As the weather is expected to cool down slightly, the Nats will look to continue their momentum heading into their midseason break.

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history. 

Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him. 

During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.  

In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons. 

Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others