Gonzalez earns ML-leading 19th win, Nats top Mets
NEW YORK (AP) — Gio Gonzalez was totally prepared to take on the New York Mets. A question about a possible Cy Young Award? That threw him.
Gonzalez earned his big league-leading 19th victory and the Washington Nationals backed him with three home runs to beat the listless Mets 5-1 Monday night.
Gonzalez is certainly a prime contender for the top pitching prize. But he playfully put up his hands when the subject was broached after the game.
"When you start looking at one thing, it'll drive you crazy," he said. "If it comes, it comes."
Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has 18 wins and a better ERA than Gonzalez, and starts against the Nationals on Tuesday night. Asked whether he was eager for Washington to face Dickey — and perhaps dent his Cy Young chances — manager Davey Johnson had a simple answer.
"Not really," he said.
Kurt Suzuki put the Nationals ahead with a home run right after catcher Kelly Shoppach dropped his wind-blown foul popup for an error. Ryan Zimmerman launched a two-run shot later in the third inning and Ian Desmond added a two-run drive in the fourth.
That was plenty for Gonzalez (19-7) and the team with the best record in the majors. The lefty gave up three hits over six innings, none until Scott Hairston homered in the fourth.
Gonzalez worked around five walks and extended his career high for wins. He seemed relaxed enough, chatting with fans in the front row while waiting in the on-deck circle in the sixth as Suzuki batted.
Gonzalez matched a season high for walks, yet lowered his ERA to 2.93.
"Couldn't find the strike zone," he said. "Drank a little too much coffee. I don't know what it was."
The Nationals opened a six-game swing that ends this weekend in Atlanta, where they'll play their closest pursuers in the NL East.
It had already been a jocular trip for the Nationals by the time they arrived in New York. As part of rookie hazing that is traditional in baseball culture, the club made its newcomers dress up as the U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team — including red leotards and gold medals — for the train ride from Washington to Manhattan and dinner out Sunday night.
Teen star Bryce Harper wore the outfit, then had a wardrobe malfunction against the Mets. He broke his belt while diving for Andres Torres' liner in the fourth, and quickly hustled to the Nationals' bullpen in center field for a loaner.
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