WASHINGTON -- After a whirlwind week, which included a near no-hitter against the Marlins followed by the birth of his second child, Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez returned to the mound and twirled another gem Wednesday night.
Gonzalez's latest was seven innings of one-run ball in a 10-1 victory over Miami at Nationals Park. The lefty was backed by a big day at the plate from Ryan Zimmerman, who went 4-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs while finishing a triple shy of the cycle. That included a solo shot in the second inning off Marlins left-hander Adam Conley, which gave Zimmerman the Nationals/Expos franchise record with his 906th career RBI.
"That was Zim's night," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "He got a lot of hits, hit a couple homers, drove in a lot of runs, made an outstanding wide receiver-type catch down the line. It was a great night for Zim."
Conley gave up five runs on 11 hits in five innings as the struggles of the Marlins' rotation continued. Miami's hot-hitting offense was also held in check by Gonzalez, who scattered seven hits over his seven innings, with six strikeouts and no walks.
Zimmerman's support was more than enough for Gonzalez, pitching for the first time in eight days after spending the weekend on paternity leave and changing diapers for his wife, Lea, who gave birth to their second child, Gabriel.
"There was a couple days in the hospital where I couldn't go anywhere and throw," Gonzalez said. "I told Lea, 'Fourth day, you might have to put a glove on.'"
But the lefty returned to the mound after the extended break and continued his stellar season. Last Monday, Gonzalez's outing ended on a single from Dee Gordon, breaking up his no-hit bid. On Wednesday night, Gonzalez struck out Gordon on his 103rd pitch to seal another outstanding outing and lower his ERA to 2.59 on the season.
"I figured his mind's at ease from his wife had the healthy baby," Baker said. "Everything's looking positive for Gio. He looked rested. He looked strong tonight. He had everything going on."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Two-curtain-call day for Zim: Zimmerman has been a frequent visitor to the top step of the Nationals' dugout lately, as he continues to set local records and the crowd at Nationals Park summons him for curtain calls. He broke the franchise home run record and D.C. home run record last month, and on Wednesday, he collected career RBIs 906-910.
"RBI, home run leader," Gonzalez said. "Just put a crown on him already. He's the best."
Zimmerman acknowledged the crowd in the second inning and then again in the seventh. He won an 11-pitch battle with right-hander Javy Guerra with an opposite-field home run for his second homer of the day. And albeit a bit reluctantly, he came up again to the top step to wave to the crowd for his second curtain call.
"Obviously, I have a special connection with all the people here," said Zimmerman, the Nationals' first Draft pick after moving to D.C. in 2005. "We've kind of grown up together, so anytime I get to do that with them, it's fun."
Kendrick keeps on hitting: Marlins relievers struggled to find the strike zone in the sixth inning. Hunter Cervenka began the inning by issuing a walk, hitting a batter and throwing a wild pitch before he allowed a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly. Cervenka was replaced by Guerra, who issued walks to Zimmerman and catcher Matt Wieters before a two-run single by Howie Kendrick put the game out of reach at 8-1. Kendrick, who had missed the past two games with a back injury, went 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
"He can hit," Baker said of the veteran. "He could hit before he got here. We have to spot him sometimes, but the guy could hit."
"Something catastrophic would've had to happen for me to get a triple. Homers are way cooler than triples anyway." -- Zimmerman, on finishing a triple shy of the cycle
After Derek Dietrich grounded into a forceout at second base in the fourth inning, he barely beat out Wilmer Difo's throw to Zimmerman at first base. The Nationals challenged, saying Dietrich was out, but the call stood after a review of one minute and 16 seconds. The Marlins took advantage by scoring their lone run of the game on Ichiro Suzuki's RBI single.
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins:Dan Straily will take the mound when the Marlins and Nationals finish their four-game series at Nationals Park on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET. After notching a few rough outings while dealing with a sore right thumb, Straily has recorded a 3.09 ERA over his past two starts. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA in two outings vs. Washington this season.
Nationals: The Nats will close out this four-game series with the Marlins on Thursday night. Right-hander Tanner Roark -- who's looked a lot closer to his 2016 form since the All-Star break, with a 2.96 ERA in his last four starts -- starts opposite Straily.