LOS ANGELES (AP) — A brief but uncharacteristic and untimely bout of wildness cost Gio Gonzalez.
That was all Chris Capuano needed. He struck out nine while combining with two relievers on a four-hitter, James Loney hit a bases-loaded single and the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals with a 2-0 victory on Sunday.
Gonzalez (2-1) gave up three hits, one of which delivered the only two runs of the game, and walked five in six innings, striking out seven.
The Nationals haven’t scored more than two runs in any of Gonzalez’s five starts while he’s been in the game.
Gonzalez, who issued only four walks over his previous three outings, matched zeros with Capuano (3-0) through five innings before walking Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe in succession with one out in the sixth. Loney then lined a 1-2 pitch the other way to left-center.
“I kind of beat myself out of that game. I was trying to be too perfect, and it kind of got away from me,” Gonzalez said. “They’ve got a good lineup, so you’ve got to be cautious with some of the guys you face. All it was was one pitch, and that made the difference. If I got that pitch down to Loney, it’s different ballgame. But I left it up to a good hitter, and he did his job and put it in play. So you just have to learn to move on and turn the page fast.”
Loney’s hit increased his season RBI total to just six, and ended a scoreless streak of 25 innings by Gonzalez — the longest by a Nationals pitcher since the franchise left Montreal.
“He has really good control overall, so I was just trying to go up there and react,” Loney said. “I didn’t hit it that hard, as far as squaring it up. But as far as the swing, it felt good.”
Tyler Moore, the Nationals’ minor league player of the year in 2010, made his major league debut in left field and was 1 for 4 after getting promoted from Triple-A Syracuse. A roster spot opened up for him when infielder Mark DeRosa went on the 15-day disabled list because of an oblique strain on his left side.
“It was a great day,” said Moore, who singled in the fifth. “It was fun and everything I’d hoped it was going to be. I just wanted to come up here and help this team win, whatever I can do.”
On Saturday night, top prospect Bryce Harper made his big league debut for the Nats in left field and went 1 for 3 with a double and sacrifice fly. Harper shifted to center field on Sunday after Jayson Werth was a late scratch because of severe migraines. Johnson said Werth spent most of the game in the trainer’s room.
“He did come out around the eighth inning and said if I needed him, he could hit,” manager Davey Johnson said. “But I was reluctant to use him.”
Gonzalez was struck on his pitching arm by a line drive off Kemp’s bat leading off the fourth, but recovered in time to throw him out. After Ethier walked, Harper made his first defensive gem in the big leagues — robbing Uribe of extra bases with a running catch and slamming into the padded fence before falling to the ground.
“Before that pitch, I was thinking if he hits a ball in the gap, I was going to go as hard as I can and not let the guy on first base score,” Harper said. “I didn’t want it to drop. It was a 0-0 ballgame, so in that situation, you want to catch everything. I cramped up, actually, when I landed. So that’s the only thing that bothered me.”
Capuano allowed three hits and two walks in 6⅔ innings, helping send the Nats to their fourth straight loss and fourth shutout defeat of the season after they entered the series with an NL-best 14-5 record.