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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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Roark and Turner lead the way as Nats hold on to top Giants

Roark and Turner lead the way as Nats hold on to top Giants

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 4-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night at AT&T Park.

How it happened: This Trea Turner and Bryce Harper combination at the top of the Nationals' lineup has potential.

Turner has been doing his part for over a week now, continuing to look like a player who can lead the Nats to new heights with his production from the leadoff spot. And on Thursday night in San Francisco, Harper followed the rookie's lead with a strong effort hitting behind him.

Turner went 2-for-4 with a walk, a run and a steal. After going hitless in his previous five games, Harper smoked an RBI double to score Turner from first in the top of the sixth. As Turner rounded third and charged home, his helmet flew off behind his head, a subtle ode to the man who drove him in.

Turner had one of three straight two-out RBI singles hit by the Nats in the top of the second inning alone. Danny Espinosa got the first to score Wilson Ramos. Tanner Roark then landed the second to score Ryan Zimmerman before Turner brought home Espinosa.

That sequence was the worst moment for Johnny Cueto, who lasted a season-low five innings. Roark, on the other hand, was surgical through seven innings of one-run ball. 

The Nats pitching staff hummed like a well-oiled machine until the bottom of the ninth inning when Jonathan Papelbon took over. He faced one batter - Brandon Crawford - who flew out - before manager Dusty Baker got Oliver Perez warming in his bullpen. Papelbon would stay in to allow two baserunners before getting the hook. That simply does not happen if he had not given up six earned runs in his previous two outings. Clearly the Nats do not have confidence in their closer at the moment.

Perez replaced Papelbon, but didn't finish the inning. He loaded the bases by walking Trevor Brown, then allowed a run on a Gregor Blanco infield grounder that was charged to Papelbon. Blanco hit a laser to Anthony Rendon, who bobbled it before throwing it to second, where Espinosa also bobbled it to botch the forceout.

After Perez, it was Shawn Kelley who came in and shut it down with a strikeout of Angel Pagan with the bases loaded. Papelbon, by the way, has now been tagged with earned runs in three straight outings.

The Nationals won their second straight game after losing six of their previous eight.

What it means: The Nats beat the Giants in their first head-to-head matchup of the season. They moved to 60-42 overall and sit five games up on the Miami Marlins in the NL East with exactly 60 games left to play.

Roark too much for Giants: Roark entered Thursday as the less-heralded of the two starting pitchers, but the Nats right-hander thoroughly out-dueled Cueto in a performance that was typical of his strong 2016 season. Roark went seven innings with one run surrendered on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts on 111 total pitches. It was the eighth time this season that Roark has gone at least seven innings with one earned run or fewer allowed. Only Cubs lefty Jon Lester, with nine such starts, has done that more. Roark moved to 10-6 on the year and currently holds a 2.96 ERA.

Turner lights the fuse: The Nats' issues in the leadoff spot may soon become a distant memory. Turner continued to set the table brilliantly on Thursday night with two hits, a walk, a run and a steal. He fills up box scores like no one else on the Nationals right now and the impact he's having on their lineup as a whole as profound. This was the fifth time in his last nine games that Turner has reached base at least twice and the second straight outing he's been on three times. Turner's steal pushed him to 6-for-6 on attempts this season in just 14 total games. Including the minor leagues, he's 31-of-33 this year.

Turner also fared well defensively. Despite being new to center field and playing in a new ballpark, Turner made all the outs that were hit to him. He even reeled in a leaping catch at the wall for the first out of the bottom of the fifth. Turner backed up all the way to the wall and jumped to catch a Mac Williams flyball. The jump may not have been necessary, but he displayed solid instincts near the wall for a guy who is learning on the job out there.

Harper shows some life: Before Harper's RBI double to the left field corner in the sixth, the reigning MVP was 0-for-19 in his last 21 at-bats. As off as he's looked at times this season, Harper had reached one of his lowest points. The double, though was absolutely crushed and it gave the Nats a nice insurance run against a team that has proven resilient in the past.

Up next: The Nats and Giants play another late one with a 10:15 p.m. ET start on Friday night. Max Scherzer (10-6, 2.92) will take the mound for the Nats opposite right-hander Jeff Samardzija (9-6, 4.22).

[RELATED: 'Baseball in the District' - Harper's slump, trade deadline]

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GIF: Foul ball results in weird moment between Braves player and fan

GIF: Foul ball results in weird moment between Braves player and fan

Uh, that's not supposed to happen.

A fan at Turner Field on Thursday night reached into the field of play to catch a flyball and got a lot more than just a souvenir. He caught it right before Braves outfeilder Chase d'Arnaud came charging in. d'Arnau coudl not stop his momentum and ended up face-to-face with the fan, appearing to nearly give him a kiss on the replay.

It was weird. See for yourself:

[RELATED: 'Baseball in the District' - Harper's slump, trade deadline]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES

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NL East: Mets targeting All-Star catcher for deadline trade

NL East: Mets targeting All-Star catcher for deadline trade

Being aggressive at least year's trade deadline paid big dividends for the New York Mets, who saw Yoenis Cespedes help lead them to a World Series berth. They could be looking for something similar this year, as a new report has them targeting one of baseball's best catchers.

The news comes from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who says the Mets have shown interest in Milwaukee Brewers backstop Jonathan Lucroy.

Rosenthal notes that no deal is close, but time is running out before Monday's deadline. The Mets appear intent on adding a bat to their lineup and Lucroy would certainly provide some help.

An All-Star this season and back in 2014, the 30-year-old is batting .300 with 13 homers and 50 RBI through 93 games. He would be an upgrade at catcher for most teams, the Mets included.

We'll see if anything comes of this. The Mets could use some help and getting a player like Lucroy would definitely change their outlook in the NL East.