The Washington Nationals fell to the Atlanta Braves 3-2 at Nationals Park June 3 in the finale of the two-game weekend series between the clubs.
Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson settled down after a rocky start to improve to 6-4 on the season, while Gio Gonzalez took the loss for Washington and dropped to 7-2.
The Nats have now lost four of their last five, as this two-game split followed a three-game sweep at the hands of the Miami Marlins.
Washington jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning after back-to-back home runs from rookie outfielders. Steve Lombardozzi led off the bottom of the first with his first career homer, and fellow rookie Bryce Harper followed by hitting the first pitch he saw into the upper deck for a round-tripper.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marks the first time in modern baseball history that two rookies hit back-to-back home runs to start a game.
“I thought the way we started the ballgame, we were gonna score some runs,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “And then it seemed to die after that, but it was a tough game.”
Gonzalez had one of his shortest outings of the year, lasting just 4 2-3 innings. Gonzalez’s problem was not getting ahead of hitters.
“Especially good hitters like that, you try not to get behind on them, and when I did they made it work”, Gonzalez said. “They made me go out there and throw some pitches and make them in their counts.”
The 26 year-old lefty allowed seven hits, three earned runs and posted a season-low five strikeouts on 91 pitches.
The Braves scored their first run in the third off a Dan Uggla double that scored Martin Prado to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Atlanta then scored two off Gonzalez in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead that would hold up as the final score.
Gonzalez threw two wild pitches, walked two (one intentionally), and allowed two hits in the fifth frame. The big hit came off the bat of Jayson Heyward, whose two-out single into left scored two to put the Braves up 3-2 and end Gonzalez’s day.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Harper tried to stretch a shot off the right-center field wall into a triple, but was thrown out at third to end Washington’s potential threat.
“When you’re hitting, and you got the middle of the lineup coming up behind you, you get in scoring position,” Johnson said. “He’s just a young, aggressive player and I like to see it, but that’s a situation I need [him] in scoring position.”
When asked the same question as his manger, the young star had a similar outlook.
“I thought he [Andrelton Simmons] had to make a perfect throw, in which he did,” Harper said. “Maybe I should’ve [stayed at second].”
Michael Morse went hitless in his second game since coming of the disabled list for the Nats, putting the slugger at 0-8 with three strikeouts.
The Nationals will next host the New York Mets for a three-game series beginning June 5. Jordan Zimmermann (3-5) will take the mound for Washington Tuesday, while righty Chris Young (4-3) will make his season debut for the Mets. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.