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Nats win on wild night in Houston

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Nats win on wild night in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) -- Roger Bernadina scored when Houston made two errors on the same play in the 11th inning and the Washington Nationals picked up their third straight win, 5-4 over the Astros on Monday night.

Ryan Zimmerman had two hits and two RBIs, and Michael Morse added two hits for Washington.

Wilton Lopez (3-1) pitched a perfect 10th inning but Bernadina led off the 11th with a single. On Kurt Suzuki's bunt attempt, Brett Wallace and Lopez collided before Wallace threw the ball past first base and down the right field line. Right fielder Brian Bogusevic's throw home was too high, allowing Bernadina to score and give the Nationals a 5-4 lead.

Craig Stammen (5-1) pitched a perfect 10th and got a scare in the 11th when Chris Snyder just missed a home run down the left field line before striking out. Bogusevic walked and stole second but Jose Altuve grounded out to end the game.

Tyler Clippard hit Carlos Corporan with a pitch and walked Bogusevic with one out in the ninth before Altuve doubled to tie the game at 4. Clippard struck out Marwin Gonzalez and Wallace to send the game to extra innings.

Edwin Jackson went 5 1-3 innings for the Nationals, giving up two runs and two hits with eight strikeouts. Jackson did not allow a hit after the first inning and walked two the rest of the way.

Houston's Dallas Keuchel allowed four runs -- three earned -- and a career-high 12 hits with two strikeouts in six innings. Keuchel has allowed at least four runs in each of his five losses and has given up 30 runs -- 26 earned -- over his last 25 innings.

Washington took a 4-1 lead in the fifth on a two-run single by Zimmerman followed by a run-scoring single by Morse.

Jackson led off the inning with a single, and Espinosa followed with a single. Bryce Harper walked to load the bases before Zimmerman's single. Zimmerman was thrown out trying to go to second.

After giving up three singles in the first three innings, Keuchel got into trouble in the fourth, allowing consecutive singles to Zimmerman and Morse to start the inning before Adam LaRoche tied the game at 1 with an RBI single.

Morse extended his hitting streak to 15 games.

Altuve walk to lead off the sixth and stole second before moving to third on a groundout. Altuve scored on Wallace's sacrifice fly off Tom Gorzelanny.

After Justin Maxwell tripled, pinch-hitter Steve Pearce cut the lead to 4-3 with an RBI single.

Gonzalez gave Houston a 1-0 lead in the first with second home run of the season.

NOTES: Washington claimed IF Cesar Izturis off waivers from Milwaukee on Monday. . The Nationals placed IF Mark DeRosa on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Sunday. . Washington designated LHP Atahualpa Severino for assignment. . The Nationals agreed to terms on professional contracts with four international free agents: RHP Ramses Rosario and OFs Aldrem Corredor, Darryl Florentino and Luis Guzman. . Astros C Jason Castro (right knee) continued his rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday night. . The attendance for the game was a season-low 13,843. ... RHP Jordan Lyles, who is 2-8 with a 5.95 ERA, will start Tuesday's game for Houston, while Washington will start LHP Ross Detwiler, who is 6-4 with a 3.02 ERA this season.

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Gio Gonzalez has plenty to work on before Nats playoffs begin

Gio Gonzalez has plenty to work on before Nats playoffs begin

Gio Gonzalez' seesaw 2016 regular season is officially in the books. Next stop: the NL Division Series where he will face the L.A. Dodgers, likely in Game 3 and possibly with one of the two teams' season on the line. Either way, it will be important.

Over the years, teams have trotted out far less accomplished pitchers in playoff games, ones with nothing close to the track record of Gonzalez. And for long stretches this season, he has been effective, like in July and August when he held a 3.16 ERA across 11 starts.

But a lot has happened since August for Gonzalez, both on the field and off of it. In his five starts since, he's given up 19 runs in 23 innings. That stretch includes his 3 2/3 innings on Wednesday night against the Diamondbacks, when he gave up three runs on eight hits and three walks and threw a whopping 100 pitches.

Just in time for the playoffs.

The Nationals have an unenviable situation without Stephen Strasburg, who is rehabbing a right flexor strain, and with Joe Ross still building his workload. They better hope the version of Gio Gonzalez they see in the NLDS is better than the one they have witnessed over the last several weeks.

“It wasn’t that good, but we didn’t score any runs either. He had a lot of pitches in a short period of time," manager Dusty Baker said after the Nats' 3-0, rain-shortened loss.

"They ran his pitch count up. They didn’t swing at very many balls and it looked like they were trying to wait on his fastball."

Gonzalez will now have to make adjustments in bullpen sessions over the course of the next 12 days. He will have to do that with a lot on his mind. Gonzalez heads to the funeral of close friend Jose Fernandez on Thursday and was pitching with extra emotion against Arizona. 

“He’s an emotional-type guy," Baker said. "I talked to him a little bit about Fernandez and he was pitching for him and for us. Just wasn’t a very good night."

Now Gonzalez will have plenty of time to grieve and recalibrate before he sees the Dodgers. Whether that hurts or helps has yet to be determined.

“It can [help]. Just depends on, not only can it reset him, but after things have subsided some… they say time heals all wounds, but some wounds take longer to heal," Baker said.

"It probably won’t really set in until after the season when he’s back in Miami and around and Jose’s not around. Hopefully, he can have a couple good ‘pens and get it back together because we’re certainly going to need him come playoff time."

Gonzalez does have some success against the Dodgers to build off of. He holds a 1.69 ERA across 32 innings vs. L.A. since 2012 and held them to one run through six earlier this season.

Gonzalez is also just ready for a fresh start.

"You start the postseason with a zero ERA. It's a new series. New way to look at it," he said.

[RELATED: Podcast: Can Nationals win without Wilson Ramos?]

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Gio Gonzalez bounced early as Nats fall to Diamondbacks

Gio Gonzalez bounced early as Nats fall to Diamondbacks

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 3-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Nationals Park.

How it happened: The Nationals will be starting Gio Gonzalez in the NL Division Series against the Dodgers whether it's their preference or not. That's not to say they aren't at all comfortable with having him on the mound in the playoffs. He's been there before and happens to have plenty of recent success against the very team he'll face.

It's just that with Stephen Strasburg injured and Joe Ross not yet stretched out since returning from the disabled list, Gonzalez is essentially their third starter by default. And with how inconsistent he's been lately, that produce an interesting dynamic in the postseason. It's Gio Gonzalez roulette: who will take the ball and stare down Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez, Good Gio or Bad Gio?

The latter was on display Wednesday night in the Nats' 3-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, a game shortened to 6 1/3 innings by unrelenting rain. He managed just 3 2/3 innings on 100 pitches. That's not an MLB record for pitches in such a short start, but it's not far off. Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia, for instance, threw 107 pitches in 3 2/3 just five years ago.

Gonzalez' latest outing may not go down in the annals of history, but it was a troubling sight for the Nationals. The next time he will pitch is against the Dodgers, either in L.A. or Washington. And given the nature of a five-game series, their season could be on the line.

Gonzalez needed 24 pitches to get out of the first inning and was fortunate to give up just one run in the frame, that on a groundout by Paul Goldschmidt. Gonzalez needed 24 more in the second after giving up a single and a walk, but no runs. 

He threw 29 more in the third, including an RBI double to Brandon Drury. In the fourth, he tossed 23 more pitches and was pulled after Goldschmidt landed an RBI single, Gonzalez' third run of the evening. He allowed eight hits and three walks in total.

Gonzalez has been bounced after 4 1/3 innings or less in four of his last nine starts. In his last five outings, he's surrendered 19 earned runs in 23 innings. He's trending in the wrong direction after a strong July and August, and it's not good for the Nats.

Gonzalez didn't go deep in his start, but he wasn't necessarily terrible either. The Nats' offense fell closer to that description. They managed zero runs on five hits and one walk against Arizona starter Shelby Miller. His 6.15 ERA through 20 starts this season makes his 2015 All-Star nod seem like a distant memory.

The Nationals lost their second game of this series against the Diamondbacks and will now hope for a four-game split on Thursday. Washington has dropped seven of their last 11 games.

What it means: The Nationals fell to 92-65 not the year with four games remaining. Their magic number to clinch home field advantage in the NLDS stands at three thanks to the Dodgers' loss to the Padres.

Rendon lands two: Anthony Rendon was once again a standout for the Nats on offense with a pair of singles in two plate appearances. That came one night after he led the Nats to victory with a three-run homer. Rendon now has six hits in his last five games and appears to be heating up as the Nats enter the final four games of the regular season. With Wilson Ramos out, Rendon is even more important as one of the Nationals' most potent right-handed bats.

Belisle keeps it up: He may not pitch in high-leverage spots, and he may not bring electric stuff out of the bullpen, but veteran Matt Belisle just continues to produce in whatever role the Nats ask of him. He replaced Gonzalez in the fourth inning on Wednesday and tossed 1 1/3 perfect frames. He got four outs on seven pitches, a nice change of pace from the 100 pitches Gonzalez needed to record 11 outs. Belisle was even checked on by trainer Paul Lessard before he began the fifth inning, but he didn't show any problems afterwards.

Gio playing with a heavy heart: Gonzalez was pitching with a lot on his mind Wednesday night following the death of his friend Jose Fernandez over the weekend. Gonzalez was in tears while warming up in right field before the game and plans to fly to Florida in the morning to attend the funeral services of the late Marlins star. 

Up next: The Nats and Diamondbacks finish of their series with a 1:05 p.m. start on Thursday afternoon. Joe Ross (7-5, 3.48) will pitch opposite former Nats prospect Robbie Ray (8-14, 4.77).

[RELATED: Podcast: Can Nationals win without Wilson Ramos?]

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