- Associated Press - Saturday, April 23, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson dug an early hole that was too deep for the Twins to climb out of Friday night.

Gibson allowed seven runs over three innings and the Washington Nationals defeated the Twins 8-4. Washington scored four runs with two outs in the first and added three more in the third.

“Any time I needed to make a pitch with two strikes and guys on base or even guys not on base and two strikes, just didn’t do it,” said Gibson, who allowed seven hits and two walks.

Gibson (0-3) threw 67 pitches after topping 100 in his first three starts while getting to the seventh inning just one time.

“Every start he’s just burning through pitches, long counts and walks,” manager Paul Molitor said. “I’m not sure exactly what it is but I know that we’re going to try and figure some things out.”

Miguel Sano hit his third homer of the year and singled for the Twins, and Kurt Suzuki added two singles.

Jayson Werth hit a home run and robbed one in left, and Gio Gonzalez pitched six-plus innings for Washington.

In the third, Byron Buxton’s high fly gave Werth time to get back to the fence. He timed his jump perfectly, getting his glove just above the wall and bringing Buxton’s drive down with him.

“You can tell he played basketball,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “He timed it like a rebound.”

Jose Lobaton drove in three runs with a triple and a single, and National League batting leader Daniel Murphy had two more hits for first-place Washington, which has won six straight at home.

Washington’s 12-4 record matches the best start in Expos/Nationals franchise history.

In the fifth, Werth hit a solo shot to left center, his third.

Gonzalez (1-0) enjoyed offensive support for the first time in three starts while allowing three runs - two earned - on six hits.

“Gio was tough,” Molitor said. “He can paint the outside with his fastball and change and he keeps you honest inside, and not too many of our guys picked up his curveball.”

Murphy, who went 2 for 4 to raise his average to .411, has hit safely in 14 of 16 games. Danny Espinosa added two hits and two RBIs for Washington.

The Nationals had produced only one run for Gonzalez in his first two starts.

One of Washington’s runs in the third scored on catcher Lobaton’s first triple since 2013.

REMEMBERING PRINCE

The Twins wore purple wrist bands to honor Minneapolis native Prince, who passed away Thursday at the age of 57. “Just a small tribute,” Molitor said. “But our clubhouse guy came up with the idea, and we were able to get them so that’s what we’re going to do.”

In addition, both teams’ media game notes featured Prince-related item titles, and the Nationals played a video tribute to the artist during batting practice.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: Suzuki, given a day off Thursday after getting hit by a foul ball on Wednesday night, was back behind the plate.

UP NEXT

Twins: RHP Phil Hughes (1-2, 4.42) makes his third career appearance and second start against the Nationals. He’s 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA against Washington.

Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (1-2, 3.71) makes his first regular-season appearance against the Twins. Roark allowed four earned runs on seven hits over six innings in a loss to the Marlins on Monday.


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