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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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Harper Among 4 Nats' Starters Out Vs. Padres Sunday

Harper Among 4 Nats' Starters Out Vs. Padres Sunday

National League home run leader Bryce Harper is among four starters out of the lineup for the Washington Nationals in their series finale against the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth and Matt Wieters also did not start for the Nationals, who open a nine-game, 10-day road trip Monday afternoon in San Francisco.

Murphy missed the previous two games due to illness, Chris Speier said Saturday. Speier, serving as acting manager with Dusty Baker away this weekend to attend his son Darren's high school graduation in California, did not meet with the media before Sunday's game.

RELATED: Nationals' Joe Ross to Start Against Team That Drafted Him

Harper is batting .337 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs.

Washington won the first two matchups in the three-game series.

Joe Ross (2-0, 5.32) faces fellow right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (4-4, 5.74) on Sunday.

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Nationals' Joe Ross to start against team that drafted him

Nationals' Joe Ross to start against team that drafted him

WASHINGTON -- On Dec. 19, 2014, the San Diego Padres traded pitcher Joe Ross and a player to be named later -- it would be Trea Turner -- to the Washington Nationals in a three-team deal that included the Tampa Bay Rays.

Since that trade, the Padres have posted a record of 160-215 while the Nationals are 208-166 after they won 3-0 Saturday as Stephen Strasburg struck out a career-high 15 batters in seven innings and the Washington staff fanned 17.

As a reminder of what could have been, Ross (2-0, 5.32) makes the start Sunday against San Diego right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (4-4, 5.74) in the finale of the three-game series at Nationals Park.

First-place Washington is 30-18 while last-place San Diego is 18-33.

Ross was drafted by the Padres in the first round out of his California high school in 2011. Ross is 2-0 in his career against San Diego with a 2.25 ERA in two starts. Last year, he went six innings and allowed six hits and three earned runs in a win against the Padres.

"I was not around Joe at all," said Andy Green, in his second year as the San Diego manager. "We saw him last year; he is a sinkerballer."

The Padres did acquire All-Star first baseman Wil Myers in the trade.

The Nationals have scored a record 62 runs in the four starts made this year by Ross, more than any other pitcher has received in his first four starts of a season. That included a 23-5 victory at home April 30 against the New York Mets and a 10-1 win Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners.

Ross, who broke into the majors with the Nationals in 2015, was in the rotation last season and made 19 starts before going on the disabled list. He was in line to be the No. 5 starter, but began the season at Triple-A Syracuse.

Chacin is 3-2 in six starts against Washington and has a 3.09 ERA. He has made three career starts at Nationals Park and is 1-1 with a 0.45 ERA while allowing only one run in 20 innings.

The Nationals played their second game in a row Saturday without second baseman Daniel Murphy, who was ill.

Nationals bench coach Chris Speier, filling in for manager Dusty Baker, said before the game that Murphy was ill. Murphy entered the day hitting .316 with nine homers and 33 RBIs.

"He's available. This is Dusty's theory: Usually when somebody comes in and says, 'I'm ready,' then he usually gives him one more day. But he's available," Speier told reporters before the game.

Murphy entered Saturday seventh in the National League in hits with 56, just ahead of teammate Bryce Harper (55). Murphy was also among the league leaders in multi-hit games and road batting average.

Washington shortstop Turner, drafted by the Padres in the first round out of North Carolina State, had two hits, including a homer, Friday and was 1-for-4 Saturday.

Another hot hitter for Washington is center fielder Michael A. Taylor, who hit a homer for the second day in a row Saturday and has four homers in his last 14 games.

"I'm looking for my pitch and staying in my zone," Taylor said. "I'm not trying to do too much."

MORE NATIONALS: Stephen Strasburg has career-high 15 strikeouts in Nationals win over Padres