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Nats turn to Gonzalez in Game 5


Nats turn to Gonzalez in Game 5

After their blowout loss in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, multiple Nationals players mentioned how significant a win in Game 4 would be, not only because of the obvious staving off of elimination but because it would allow them to get the ball back in their ace's hand for a decisive Game 5.

"If we win one game," Ryan Zimmerman said, "we have a good chance with our guy on the mound."

"Our guy," of course, is Gio Gonzalez, who now gets a chance to start the final game of this taut series against the Cardinals, erase the memory of his shaky Game 1 outing and propel the Nationals to a date with the Giants in the National League Championship Series.

Members of the organization have been referring to Gonzalez as "our guy" and "our ace" for weeks now, even before Stephen Strasburg was shut down in early-September and putting the onus on the left-hander to lead this pitching staff down the stretch and into the postseason.

And for good reason. No team in baseball was more successful with one starter on the mound this year than the Nationals were with Gonzalez. His 21 wins led the majors, but so did the 24-8 record this team posted in games started by Gonzalez.

They even managed to win Game 1 of this series despite their No. 1 starter's stunning loss of command: seven walks issued in five innings.

Gonzalez has chosen to focus not on the negative from that outing but the positive: the fact he was able to cobble together five innings and allow only two runs to score, keeping his team in the game.

"When you look at it, all said and done, seven walks, yeah, but you have five innings and two earned runs to a team that their starting pitcher went 5 2/3 and gave up one," he said. "It was a good battle between two pitchers. You find the strike zone, some way, somehow. It was my first postseason game. No excuses. But the way I see it is, playing in someone else's house, pretty rowdy, it's pretty exciting. You catch yourself at the moment, take a step back and take a deep breath and try to find it again."

The Nationals must hope Gonzalez is able to find "it" tonight and extend an already remarkable season at least another week.

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Nats beat Mariners behind Joe Ross' career day in return from minors

Nats beat Mariners behind Joe Ross' career day in return from minors

WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon homered twice and drove in five runs, Joe Ross returned from the minors to allow one run over a career high-tying eight innings, and the Washington Nationals routed the Seattle Mariners 10-1 on Tuesday night.

Bryce Harper added his 14th homer and Jayson Werth hit his seventh off Chris Bergman (1-2), who allowed all of the Nationals' runs and 14 of their 15 hits.

Rendon doubled before his second homer -- and seventh of the season -- completed an eight-run fourth inning. Ryan Zimmerman also had three hits.

Mike Zunino homered off Ross (2-0) in his return from his own minor league stint. Robinson Cano was hitless in his first game back from the disabled list following a thigh injury as Seattle dropped its fourth straight.

Ross showed no signs of the late April struggles that ended with a demotion to Triple-A Syracuse. He yielded five hits and a walk while striking out six, and retired 12 straight batters after a leadoff single to begin the game.

By the time Seattle finally put multiple runners aboard, Washington had already opened a 10-0 lead.

Rendon's second-inning shot around the left field foul pole made it 2-0.

Then Werth, Harper and Rendon all connected in the fourth, helping the Nationals score seven of their eight runs in the inning with two outs.

MORE NATIONALS: WATCH: Werth, Harper go back-to-back, Rendon hits 2 HRs in Nationals win

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WATCH: Werth and Harper go back-to-back, Rendon hits 2 HRs in Nats win

WATCH: Werth and Harper go back-to-back, Rendon hits 2 HRs in Nats win

The Nationals had a big day at the plate Tuesday night.

Washington hit four home runs, including three in an eight-run fourth inning, in its 10-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon hit two home runs – the first a two-run blast to left field in the second inning and the second a three-run shot to center in the fourth. He finished the game 3-for-4 with five RBIs.

Prior to Rendon’s second homer in the fourth inning, left fielder Jayson Werth hit a two-run blast to left field, which was followed by a solo shot from right fielder Bryce Harper in the next at-bat.

Harper’s homer was measured at 450 feet.

At the end of the fourth, the Nationals led 10-0, which also included an RBI single from catcher Matt Wieters and an RBI triple from shortstop Trea Turner.

Tuesday night’s contest was the first of a three-game home series against the Mariners, who play in the American League. The Nationals and Mariners also will play Wednesday and Thursday.

Earlier this season in a 23-5 win over the New York Mets on April 30, Rendon went 6-for-6 with three home runs and 10 RBIs to become the first player to accomplish that feat since at least 1913. He now has seven homers this season.

Harper’s homer was his 14th of the season, tying him for first in the National League with the Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman. The New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge is first with 15.

Though he did not have a home run Tuesday night, Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has 13 for the season.

MORE NATIONALS: 2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals