Instant analysis: Nats 8, White Sox 7

Instant analysis: Nats 8, White Sox 7
April 9, 2013, 10:15 pm
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Game in a nutshell: Returning home from a rough weekend in Cincinnati, the Nationals faced an odd matchup: an interleague series in early April. The two teams wound up playing more of an AL style game, with the ball flying out of Nationals Park on a warm, 81-degree evening. Gio Gonzalez battled his way through five innings, piling up pitches but holding the White Sox to only one run. His teammates then took care of the run support. Ian Desmond homered in the sixth. Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche each launched two-run homers in the sixth. LaRoche (who had been 0-for-15 on the season) then went deep again in the eighth, providing some much-needed insurance. Turns out they needed it, because Rafael Soriano served up a two-run homer to Alex Rios with two outs in the ninth, trimming the lead to one, before he closed this one out and improved the Nationals to 5-2.

Hitting highlight: Questions abounded for both Werth and LaRoche. Is Werth's surgically repaired wrist fully healed, and will he ever be able to hit for power again? And what's up with LaRoche's slow start to the season (0-for-15)? Is it his back acting up, is it his usual penchant for starting slow or is it a sign of regression? Well, both guys put to rest some of that talk with a couple of titanic home runs in the bottom of the sixth. Werth crushed a first-pitch fastball from Jake Peavy, way up into the left-field stands. It was his third in his last five games, and none of them were cheapies. Guess that wrist is OK. LaRoche, meanwhile, ended his drought with a bang: a two-run homer to straight center field. Two innings later, he did it again, taking lefty Joe Thornton deep. LaRoche had been making solid contact during the season's first week and had nothing to show for it. Now he does.

Pitching highlight: This was a particularly strange outing by Gonzalez. At times, he was un-hittable, leading to seven strikeouts. But his command wasn't consistent at all, elevating his pitch count to preposterous levels. Gonzalez needed 33 pitches to get through the first inning, 74 to get through three. He also suffered a complete brain cramp at one point, stepping off the mound with his wrong foot while the bases were loaded. That unusual balk brought home a run. As it turned out, though, that was the only run Gonzalez allowed. He might normally have gone deeper into the game, but with his pitch count at 99 after only five innings, he was done for the night.

Key stat: With a single, a double and a walk tonight, Denard Span raised his on-base percentage to .500. He's reached base in 15 of 30 plate appearances so far.

Up next: Jordan Zimmermann makes his second start of the season in Game 2 of this interleague series. He'll be opposed by fellow right-hander (and Maryland native) Gavin Floyd at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday.