WASHINGTON (AP) — Gio Gonzalez kept falling behind in the count and the Mets’ hitters didn’t waste time in making him pay for it.
Gonzalez had his shortest outing since 2010 and the Washington Nationals saw their nine-game winning streak against New York end with a 5-2 loss Saturday.
Gonzalez, who had won his previous six decisions against the Mets, gave up three runs in the first inning and was removed after allowing five runs on seven hits in three innings. The outing came six days after he allowed seven runs on nine hits over 4 1-3 innings in a 9-1 loss in Oakland.
“One of those things you’ve just got to keep grinding through,” said Gonzalez, who fell to 3-4 after throwing 84 pitches, just 48 for strikes. “Falling behind on everyone is just going to make it tougher on the starting pitcher, and tougher on the game in general.”
It was Gonzalez’s shortest outing as a National and briefest overall since allowing seven runs over two innings in an 11-3 loss to Kansas City on Sept. 14, 2010, while with the Oakland Athletics.
“Just way too many pitches, missing the zone, not throwing it where he wanted to,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Gonzalez’s rough start. “Just very inconsistent, and getting behind. And if you get behind at this level, you’re going to pay for it.”
Juan Lagares drove in three runs with a homer and a single, and Bartolo Colon pitched eight innings of five-hit baseball for New York.
The Mets scored one more run in the first inning Saturday than they had in the previous 27 combined. For Nationals pitchers, it marked the 10th time this season that they have allowed three or more runs in the first inning.
With one out, Daniel Murphy lined a single to center and David Wright followed with a dribbler between first base and the mound for an infield hit.
After Chris Young walked, Eric Campbell lashed a single to center scoring Murphy and Wright, and Lagares, in the starting lineup for the first time since Tuesday, blooped a single to right, scoring Young with the third run.
Lagares later homered with one on and one out in the third to give New York a 5-0 lead.
Ian Desmond had two hits for Washington, including a homer in the fourth to pull the Nationals within 5-2.
Lagares added a defensive gem in the sixth, robbing Jayson Werth of a home run with a leaping catch against the wall in center.
Werth’s leaping at catch at the wall with two outs in the ninth preserved Washington’s 5-2 win Friday night.
He was the victim of great defense on Saturday, however, when he appeared to pull the Nationals within 5-3 with a drive to center to open the inning, but Lagares raced to the wall, leaped and reached back to grab the drive.
Craig Stammen kept Washington in the game, pitching four scoreless innings after relieving Gonzalez. He retired the first eight batters he faced and worked out of a one-out jam in the seventh after an error on first baseman Tyler Moore gave New York runners at first and third.
Aaron Barrett and Jerry Blevins then each worked a scoreless inning in relief.
“That’s yeoman’s work right there,” Williams said of his bullpen. (Stammen)’s been phenomenal, and the rest of the guys down there pitched really well today.”
Colon (3-5) allowed both runs on five hits over eight innings as New York snapped a three-game losing streak.
Jenrry Mejia pitched the ninth for his first save.
NOTES: Nationals 1B Adam LaRoche tested his strained right quad Friday and said he hopes to be ready to return when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list May 25. … New York’s Zack Wheeler (1-3, 4.53) opposes Jordan Zimmermann (2-1, 3.59) in Sunday’s series finale.