Gorzelanny pitches Nationals past Giants, 2-0

May 03, 2011|By The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — — As the zeros mounted on their half of the scoreboard, the Washington Nationals never panicked. They have grown accustomed to their offense going missing and staying in the game anyway. "Pitching," manager Jim Riggleman said, "is what gives the whole club confidence."

Monday night, then, the Nationals drew their confidence from Tom Gorzelanny, the latest starter to walk to the mound, defy baseball's expectations for them and dominate an opposing lineup.

In a 2-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park, Gorzelanny fired an eight-inning, three-hit masterpiece, pushing the Nationals back to .500 and allowing their struggling offense at least one more day to find itself.

The first 12 Nationals batters recorded an out against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner, but Gorzelanny kept them in the game long enough for rookie Wilson Ramos and the lineup to show just enough offense to win it.

Gorzelanny tossed one of the best games of his career, allowing no runs and no walks in eight innings while striking out four and using just 95 pitches. He retired 15 Giants at one point, and until the eighth inning Aaron Rowand, who led off the game with a double and later singled, was the only Giants batter who managed a hit off him.

Gorzelanny continued a streak that he began, becoming the sixth straight Nationals starter to pitch at least six innings and allow two or fewer runs. The Nationals' rotation posted a 2.18 ERA over the seven-game homestand, which the team capped by winning three in a four-game series against the defending World Series champs.

"We know that we're going to hit," Riggleman said, "and our pitchers are allowing us to keep our head above water here a little bit."

The Nationals finally broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning with a string of four consecutive two-out hits, sparked by Ramos' single to left, on which he received an assist from third baseman Miguel Tejada and the official scorer. Ian Desmond followed with a liner to right, and Michael Morse knocked in the run with a single back up the middle.

When Riggleman pieced together the Nationals lineup Monday afternoon, he needed a new cleanup hitter. He Adam LaRoche sat with an ailing shoulder, and Morse came into the game, like so many Nationals, stuck in a slump. Riggleman wanted someone with power, someone who would force the opposing pitcher to think twice about walking Jayson Werth. Riggleman decided on Ramos, who became the first rookie to start a game batting fourth in the majors this season.

Ramos entered the game batting .358 with two home runs, the most consistent Nationals hitter over the first month of the season.

Leading off the fifth inning, Ramos ended Bumgarner's bid for a perfect game, lacing a double off the left-center-field fence, a few feet from a home run.

Desmond bunted Ramos to third, but Morse and Jerry Hairston struck out. Gorzelanny responded by marching back to the mound and piling up more outs. The Nationals are not scoring much these days, but their pitchers are making sure they don't have to.

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