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In seven innings, the left-hander surrendered two hits, second- and fifth-inning doubles. Both times, he could have allowed the hit to ruin him. Both times, Gonzalez was dominant in leaving them there. “Filthy,” Bernadina said, amazed even from center field.

Even better: He didn’t allow a walk. Gonzalez, who led the American League in walks in 2011, hadn’t gone a full start without issuing a walk since Aug. 1, 2010. He shook off catcher Wilson Ramos just once, and his command was impeccable. For good measure, he ripped his first major league hit.

“It was just a dominating, dominating outing,” Johnson said.

As Nationals players poured out of the dugout to mob Zimmerman near home plate, three innings after he’d thrown his final pitch, Gonzalez was first in line.

“Big smile,” he said later. “Big smile.”