WASHINGTON (AP) — Gio Gonzalez pitched six innings of three-hit ball to earn his 12th win, Ian Desmond homered, and the Washington Nationals used a three-run sixth to beat the Colorado Rockies 4-1 on Saturday.
Gonzalez (12-3) won his fourth straight start to move into a tie with R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets for the major league lead in wins. Gonzalez allowed one run, walked three and struck out six.
It was the fifth victory in six games for the Nationals, who own the best record in the NL. The only loss in that span came Friday night against Colorado in a game started by Washington’s Stephen Strasburg.
Only once this season have the Nationals lost successive games started by Strasburg and Gonzalez, on April 28-29 against the Dodgers, but through five innings this was anyone’s game.
When Gonzalez walked off the mound for the final time, the score was tied at 1. The Nationals then made him a winner with an uprising fueled by two Colorado errors.
Danny Espinosa led off the sixth with a double off Jeff Francis (2-2). After a single by Bryce Harper put runners on the corners, Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI single off Josh Roenicke.
On a wild pitch, Zimmerman took off for second. Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario’s throw was off target, and the error enabled Harper to score from third.
Later in the inning, Zimmerman came home on an errant pickoff throw by Roenicke.
After Gonzalez left, three Washington relievers allowed three hits over three innings. Tyler Clippard worked the ninth for his 14th save.
Colorado finished with four errors, tying a season high. Dexter Fowler had three hits for the Rockies, who have lost six of eight and totaled 14 runs in their last seven games.
The gametime temperature was 101 degrees, but it took a while for Washington’s offense to heat up. Desmond made it 1-0 in the second inning with his 16th home run, a drive that barely cleared the right-field scoreboard. The shortstop has five homers and 13 RBIs over his last 12 games.
During the game, however, the team announced Desmond would miss Tuesday’s All-Star game with a left oblique strain. He has been dealing with the injury since mid-June and will use the break to rest.
Colorado tied it in the fourth. Michael Cuddyer hit a leadoff double, moved to third on a groundout and scored with a headfirst slide on rookie Jordan Pacheco’s sacrifice fly to right.
Both teams got a runner into scoring position in the fifth. Colorado wasted a two-out double by Fowler, and the Nationals came up empty after opening the bottom half with successive singles by Desmond and Tyler Moore.
NOTES: Zimmerman has 18 RBIs over his last 13 games. … Fowler is on a 7-for-12 run over his last three games. … Jordan Zimmermann (5-6) takes the mound for the Nationals in the series finale against the Rockies and right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who’s 3-8 with a 6.28 ERA but 2-1 with a 2.34 ERA lifetime against Washington. … Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
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