Gonzalez was brilliant through seven scoreless innings, striking out nine batters and not allowing a hit until the sixth inning. The offense smashed six home runs, becoming just the third team since 1920 to hit at least that many in consecutive games. Adam LaRoche continued his torrid hitting pace with a 3-for-4 night that included a two-run home run. Rookie Bryce Harper went 2 for 3 and clobbered two home runs for the second time, moving him further into historic company with his parents watching from the stands.
“After about the third or fourth [home run] tonight we were like, ‘What is going on around here?’ ” LaRoche said. “I don’t know. You ride it out. Great timing for us to keep pushing hard and gain some distance.”
But not lost in all the offensive fireworks was the complete dominance of Gonzalez. In moving into a tie for the major league lead with his 18th win, he ran his scoreless streak to 16 innings over two starts. He has struck out 17 batters, walked only three and allowed eight hits in that span.
Gonzalez allowed his first hit in the sixth inning, a single by Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney. Gonzalez fired a 93-mph fastball that Barney drove the ball to the left side of the infield, between shortstop Ian Desmond and diving third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. A sigh of disappointment could be heard from the 21,244 fans in attendance.
Gonzalez met his biggest jam of the nights with two outs in the seventh, his final inning. After a single by Starlin Castro and a double by Welington Castillo, pitching coach Steve McCatty and catcher Kurt Suzuki convened on the mound.
“When Cat came up to me, it was just a little smirk that I had to crack because they were both attacking me,” said Gonzalez, adding that a few inside jokes loosened him up. “And I had to tell them, ‘Hey, back off. Get off my mound already.’ ”
Gonzalez responded with a strikeout on his wicked curveball to end the inning and head into the dugout, his work completed after 93 pitches. Even if Gonzalez hadn’t allowed a hit, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson insisted he would have removed the lefty from the game. Johnson didn’t want Gonzalez following his previous start, in which he threw 119 pitches, with another lengthy outing. “He might have fought me,” Johnson said.