In fourth, Gonzalez gets big strikeout to avoid costly inning
By Jacob Emert
WASHINGTON -- For a brief moment in the fourth inning, it appeared as if Gio Gonzalez might flash back to his poor outing from a week ago.
But unlike then -- when the former 21-game-winner cruised through three innings before hitting a roadblock -- Gonzalez powered through the hiccup and pitched into the seventh inning of Washington's 4-1 series-clinching win versus Philadelphia.
"I guess getting out of it -- that was the only difference," Gonzalez said, comparing the fourth inning of the two starts. "Minimizing damage, I wasn't going out there trying to nit-pick the corners or baby my pitches. It was, go out there and be aggressive in the strike zone."
The Phillies got to Gonzalez for two hits and one run in the fourth, but he stranded two runners on base. That run was the only mark against him on the afternoon.
His 6 1/3 innings tied his first start of the season for second longest of 2015 and his seven strikeouts were the third most for him this year.
"I just think he established the low strike today," manager Matt Williams said, "which helps with his breaking ball because it's a big, sweeping breaker that gets down below the zone and his changeup. Establishing the low strike and being able to pinpoint that down and away helped him a lot today. He was good from the first inning."
Postgame, Gonzalez credited catcher Jose Lobaton and pitching coach Steve McCatty for getting him back on track, but also closer Drew Storen.
"I try to stay out of the way a little bit," Storen said, "but I saw a couple things and said, 'Hey, might be worth trying.'"
Four relievers tag-teamed to record the final eight outs. The last of the four was Storen himself, who allowed nothing but a one-out double and recorded his National League-leading 14th save.
Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.