Gio with the shutout; Howie with 2 homers; “The Firm” closes the case!

Tonight, Gio Gonzalez moved into the upper echelon of pitchers in baseball leapfrogging over Chris Sale in ERA.  Gio threw a 6-inning shutout and had a no-hitter going into the 6th inning when Cameron Maybin got an infield hit. Gio’s ERA was lowered to 2.49, and the combination of Matt Albers, Brandon Kintzler and Sean Doolittle (9th save for the Nats) finished the game in a 3-1 win.

Gio’s ERA in Nats Park this year is 1.79, and that dominance would be wonderful in a home start in the post-season. Dusty Baker made a good decision to go to the bullpen for the 7th inning even though Gio was at 91 pitches.

The scoring offense was mostly provided by two solo home runs from Howie Kendrick and his first home run was a milestone #100 in his career. The Nationals had many other chances to push across runs but went 0-for-9 in RISP spots. Anthony Rendon had 3-hits and Daniel Murphy added 2 hits. Wilmer Difo was 1-for-3 with a walk.

For the Nats, this game was won with another split-squad looking line-up and they played without Brian Goodwin tonight. The starting outfield was Kendrick, Michael Taylor and Andrew Stevenson.

The defense was excellent and Daniel Murphy made a game-saving catch (video below) at 2nd base in the 6th inning with bases loaded to preserve the shutout for Gio Gonzalez and the win.

Some good news with a disabled list player, the Nationals cleared Trea Turner today to swing the bat, and he took batting practice which was a great sign of things to come.

The Angels entered this game with a six-game winning streak, and they are fighting for a wild card spot. On this day, the Angels faced two hot hands in Gio Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick. The Nationals improved to a season’s best 25 games over .500 with a 71-46 record. There are now only 45 games remaining in the season.

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