Gonzalez struggles in 7th, Nationals lose to Phillies
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Trying to be too fine, Gio Gonzalez ended up having a wild seventh inning.
Cesar Hernandez had a go-ahead, two-run single in a four-run seventh and Freddy Galvis had three hits and an RBI, leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.
Gonzalez (0-1) gave up three runs on five hits in 6 1-3 innings with four strikeouts and four walks. It was a disappointing debut for the left-hander, whose 3.57 ERA last year was his worst since 2009. He missed a month due to a left shoulder injury but was feeling good entering this season and pitched well in spring training.
Gonzalez breezed into the seventh, getting Jeff Francoeur to fly out to open the inning before everything unraveled.
Manager Matt Williams visited the lefty after consecutive walks put runners on first and second but left him in. Gonzalez was chased after he hit Andres Blanco to load the bases.
"I was trying to be too perfect," Gonzalez said.
Hernandez drilled Xavier Cedeno's first pitch into right field for two runs, with slow-footed Cameron Rupp sliding home after Bryce Harper's throw from right field went slightly up the third-base line. Cedeno was lifted after hitting Ben Revere. Galvis singled in a run, and Chase Utley had a sacrifice fly.
It was an unexpected turn of events, as Gonzalez looked in total control.
"He just lost the strike zone," Williams said. "Unless we had to get him out of there, we wanted to give him a shot."
Michael Taylor homered for the Nationals, the preseason favorites in the NL East who have lost three of four to open the year while scoring just seven runs.
It was the second career homer for Taylor and his first leadoff shot as he continues to fill in for Denard Span in center field while Span rehabs after core muscle surgery. But Taylor wasn't in a celebratory mood.
"It was nice to get on the board early, but it was only one run," he said. "We needed more than that tonight."
Luis Garcia (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Jerome Williams. Williams settled down after allowing Taylor's leadoff homer to yield one run and five hits with six strikeouts and a walk in six innings.
"It felt good get back to where it needed to be, down in the zone - except for the homer," he said.
Jonathon Papelbon, two days after saying he doesn't "feel much like a Phillie," pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save in as many chances. Papelbon is five saves away from becoming Philadelphia's all-time saves leader.
Once regularly sold out, Citizens Bank Park isn't expected to have its usual, raucous atmosphere this season. The Phillies announced a crowd of 19,047, which is the lowest in the 12-year history of the park.
WHAT A CATCH
The best catch of the night was made by a Phillies vendor. Grady Sizemore fouled a ball back in the seventh inning and it caromed off the fa�ade between the first and second deck and down to the lower level. The vendor snared the ball with one hand while steadying two beers with the other, drawing loud cheers from the Phillies fans.
Nationals: OF Jayson Werth was scheduled to make a rehab start at Class-A Potomac for the second straight day, but the game was rained out. Werth, who had offseason shoulder surgery, went 0 for 2 with a walk at Potomac on Thursday. He is expected to play for Potomac on Saturday and could return to the Nationals lineup on Monday.
Phillies: RHP Chad Billingsley struggled during a rehab start at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Friday, allowing three runs on four hits in 3 1-3 innings. Two of the hits were homers. Billingsley is attempting to come back after two right elbow operations limited him to 12 innings in 2013 and cost him all of last year. In eight seasons with the Dodgers, Billingsley was 81-61 with a 3.65 ERA. He could rejoin Philadelphia's rotation later this month.
Nationals: RHP Doug Fister makes his season debut on Saturday against Philadelphia after a career-best season last year when he went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA in 25 starts. Fister is 2-2 with a 2.60 ERA in four career starts against the Phillies.
Phillies: LHP Cole Hamels (0-1, 7.20) looks to regain his winning form against the Nationals when he takes the hill on Saturday. The Phillies ace dominated Washington prior to last season, going 15-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 28 starts. But Hamels was 0-2 in four starts against the Nationals last year.
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