3rd time's a charm: Gio reaches milestone

Lefty earns 100th career win; strong performance key due to Nats' injured rotation

3rd time's a charm: Gio reaches milestone

WASHINGTON -- Awaiting outside the Nationals' clubhouse was Gio Gonzalez's family, with smiles on their faces and balloons with the number 100 to celebrate his accomplishment.

Gonzalez earned his 100th career victory Friday night in the Nationals' 8-5 victory against the Rockies. He held Colorado to two runs on four hits in six innings with five strikeouts and just one walk. After the game, Gonzalez was reluctant to admit that the achievement meant much to him, instead choosing to hand out congratulations to his teammates.

"I'm just happy it came," Gonzalez said. "I finally showed up, and I'm happy I did it here with this organization. ... It's something I'm going to cherish tonight, and tomorrow just turn the page."

This was Gonzalez's third start attempting to reach his 100th career win, having one cut short by rain and receiving a no-decision after 5 2/3 innings against the Braves in his last start. It seemed as if a victory Friday night would slip away at times, after the Nationals gave Gonzalez a lead on two occasions and he allowed the Rockies to tie the game right away. However, he settled in and finished his outing strong with only 85 pitches, and could have gone longer had his spot not come up in the order.

"I think it's just trying to get back to focus," Gonzalez said. "That's one thing [pitching coach Mike Maddux] was telling me about, just make sure you execute your pitches and finish what you're doing. Same thing, you see Murph all the time at second base just like, 'Finish that inning, finish that inning.' So it's a big situation when you can go out there and try to hold down their middle of the lineup, power and try to keep close games."

Gonzalez became the fourth pitcher to record his 100th career victory in a Nationals uniform, joining Max Scherzer, Jason Marquis and Livan Hernandez.

After an erratic first half, when he posted a 4.70 ERA, Gonzalez has settled into a groove lately. In his past nine starts dating back to July 10, he has posted a 3.20 ERA. His steadied performance is even more important considering the state of the Nationals rotation, with two of its five members -- Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross -- on the disabled list. Washington is counting on veterans such as Gonzalez to provide some stability.

"He had a very, very good breaking ball and located his fastball well especially down in the zone," manager Dusty Baker said. "That's the key to his success, not getting runners on base or not walking people. He had a very good game tonight, excellent game. His last couple games ... have been good. I'm just glad we were able to get him his 100th victory."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.