LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gio Gonzalez picked a good time to earn his first victory for Washington in the second half, coming against a talented Dodgers lineup the Nationals could see in the postseason.
Backed by four homers, including two from Denard Span, Gonzalez snapped his five-game skid with a 6-4 victory on Monday night in a matchup of division leaders.
Gonzalez (7-9) allowed three runs and three hits in six-plus innings. The left-hander hadn't won since beating the Cubs on July 5. He had a 4.38 ERA in his previous nine games.
He also doubled and scored on Anthony Rendon's double off Brandon League in the seventh.
"My velocity was where I wanted it to be," Gonzalez said. "I was attacking the strike zone, fastball, curveball, changeup, it was all working. Especially in a game like this with that lineup, it's definitely not easy."
The East-leading Nationals (78-58) own the NL's best record while the Dodgers (77-61) are atop the West and close behind in pursuit of the top seed, despite losing for the third time in four games.
"We need to win games," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Rafael Soriano pitched a shaky ninth to earn his 31st save. He yielded an RBI single to Juan Uribe, after the ball skipped by the mound and caromed off second base, allowing Yasiel Puig to score.
The Dodgers then had runners on the corners with two outs but Joc Pederson took a called third strike in his major league debut.
Roberto Hernandez (2-2) gave up five runs and five hits — including a career-high four homers — in 4 1-3 innings. The right-hander came in 2-0 against the Nationals, having allowed just an unearned run in 15 1-3 innings in two starts against them while pitching for Philadelphia before being acquired by the Dodgers last month.
"It surprised me a lot," Hernandez said through a translator. "I didn't have command of my pitches from the first inning. It was just a matter of things not working for me. It wasn't that I had lost confidence."
The Nationals ended August with 40 homers, second-best in the major leagues behind Baltimore. They picked up where they left off to start the final month of the regular season, with Jayson Werth and Asdrubal Cabrera adding solo shots.
Span's second homer, a two-run shot on the first pitch he faced in the fifth, extended Washington's lead to 5-2. That chased Hernandez, who had walked Cabrera to start the inning before striking out Gonzalez.
Continue reading this story on the...