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Nationals' Gio Gonzalez turning page on regular season, focused on Dodgers

Nationals' Gio Gonzalez turning page on regular season, focused on Dodgers

WASHINGTON—Gio Gonzalez says that the regular season is over, and the postseason is something new and different. 

Gonzalez had his worst season in his fifth with the Nationals, said he wiped out his 2016 regular season memories a week ago when the regular season ended. 

“This is the playoffs now. That’s over with,” Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez will start Game 3 of the Nationals Division Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday at Dodger Stadium. 

Normally, Gonzalez would have spoken Sunday at the Nationals’ workout on the off day between Games 2 and 3, but that was wiped out with the postponement of Game 2 on Saturday. 

Gonzalez will fly ahead of the team on Sunday in order to try and be rested. 

“From what I’m hearing, they are going to be getting in a little later than usual. So I guess they just want to give me a little more time to rest,” Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez was 11-11 with a 4.57 ERA, the only time in his five seasons he didn’t have a winning record, and by far his highest ERA. He started 2016 with a 3-7 record, but did win five consecutive decisions from Aug. 5-Sept. 11. 

“It’s not something I want to sit back and reflect. I want to talk about now, which is October,” Gonzalez said. “It’s playoff time.” 

One of Gonzalez’s better games this season came on July 20 when he allowed one run on three hits in six innings in a Nationals’ 8-1 win over the Dodgers.

Overall he’s been excellent against Los Angeles with a 3-1 record and sparkling 1.69 ERA in five starts.

The current Dodgers are batting just .160 against Gonzalez with just one home run—by Carlos Ruiz, who he often faced with the Phillies—in 144 at-bats. 

“It’s never easy facing that lineup. I would never say, hey, just go out there and pitch. You definitely have to have some common sense to throw to some of these guys. You can’t just groove a fastball right down the middle,” Gonzalez said. 

It will be Gonzalez’s first start since the funeral for Jose Fernandez, a close friend of the Nationals’ left-hander. 

“It’s never easy,” Gonzalez said haltingly. “Still to this day I have a tough time speaking about it…This is my job. I need to focus on trying to help out the Washington Nationals.” 

MORE NATIONALS: MANFRED EXPLAINS DECISION TO POSTPONE NATS-DODGERS

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Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

SAN DIEGO -- Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run home run off Stephen Strasburg in the first inning of the right-hander's first start in almost a month and the San Diego Padres beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 Saturday night.

Strasburg (10-4) retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a single to Jose Pirela and then the homer to the switch-hitting Solarte, who drove a 96-mph fastball to right for his 13th.

Strasburg then settled down against his hometown team, retiring 10 straight batters and 13 of 14. He went six innings, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out eight and walking one.

He hadn't pitched since July 23, when he went only two innings at Arizona. He went on the disabled list with an elbow nerve impingement.

Strasburg pitched at West Hills High in suburban Santee and then at San Diego State for coach Tony Gwynn before going to the Nationals with the No. 1 pick overall in the 2009 draft.

While Strasburg pitched well, the Nationals had only three hits.

San Diego's Travis Wood (2-1) also settled down after laboring through the first inning, when he threw 35 pitches but didn't allow a run. He was unscathed until the fifth, when he allowed a one-out single to Jose Lobaton and a two-out double to Adrian Sanchez. The run was unearned because of Woods' throwing error on Strasburg's sacrifice bunt that advanced Lobaton.

Wood allowed just the unearned run on three hits in seven innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.

Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his 11th save.

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Matt Grace, Howie Kendrick lead Nationals past San Diego Padres

Matt Grace, Howie Kendrick lead Nationals past San Diego Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Matt Grace pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in place of injured Max Scherzer and Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff homer and drove in two runs to help the Washington Nationals beat the San Diego Padres 7-1 on Friday night.

Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start and placed on the 10-day disabled list with a sore neck. Grace and five relievers held San Diego to four hits.

Grace, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and pitched at UCLA, made his first big league start and his first start since 2012 when he was with Single-A Potomac. It was his 61st big league appearance.

The left-hander allowed two hits, struck out one and walked one. He retired Cory Spangenberg on a grounder to open the fifth and manager Dusty Baker came out to get him after 52 pitches.

Shawn Kelley came on and with one out allowed Dusty Coleman's solo homer into the second deck in left field, his fourth.

Joe Blanton (2-2) pitched a scoreless sixth for the win.

Kendrick homered to left on the third pitch from Luis Perdomo, his sixth leadoff shot this season and seventh homer overall. Kendrick also hit an RBI single with no outs in the seventh to chase Perdomo and give the Nationals a 5-1 lead. Pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza hit a sacrifice fly one batter earlier.

Adam Lind hit an RBI single in the sixth.

Washington's Michael A. Taylor robbed Yangervis Solarte of a home run with a perfectly timed leap to catch the ball above the 396 sign in center field leading off the second, and right fielder Andrew Stevenson made a nice running catch of Wil Myers' fly ball with a runner on third to end the fourth.

Perdomo (6-8) allowed five runs, three earned, and six hits while striking out five and walking three.