JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez has made a good impression so far on his new manager, Dusty Baker, and that includes Friday’s game against Miami.
Gonzalez allowed two hits in two scoreless innings in his first start of spring training for the Nationals, who lost to a Marlins’ split squad 5-4.
“He has good control, good command and a good demeanor,” Baker said. “He doesn’t get easily rattled. If I had that stuff, I would be easily rattled either.”
Gonzalez struck out one and threw 27 pitches, 17 for strikes. He described his 2016 debut as an adrenaline rush.
“I still have the butterflies, which is great,” he said. “I was just trying to keep the ball down. There are a lot of things I can learn from today’s start. I like what happened today.”
Justin Maxwell hit a game-winning three-run homer with one out in the ninth inning off Paolo Espino. It was the second homer in as many games for Maxwell, who is bidding for a roster spot as a backup outfielder.
Washington’s Wilmer Difo hit a three-run homer off Brian Ellington. Michael Taylor homered off Miami’s Adam Conley. Brendan Ryan had a single and a triple in two at-bats for the Nationals.
Marlins right-hander Jarred Cosart escaped serious injury when he collided with teammate Martin Prado when both were scrambling to cover third base. Cosart bruised his right knee and complained of a tight calf.
Giancarlo Stanton doubled for Miami. Justin Bour and J.T. Realmuto drove in runs against Bronson Arroyo, who worked two innings.
Nationals: Gonzalez is one of only four left-handers to win at least 10 games each of the past six years, but he’s still looking to improve. He said pitching coach Mike Maddux has urged him to focus more on his target.
“No more looking down, looking away,” Gonzalez said. “It’s about pounding the strike zone and being aggressive.”
Marlins: Conley, a contender for the rotation, gave up one run. He needed only 17 pitches in two innings, throwing 13 strikes.
The left-hander was pleased with his velocity, especially when he got Trea Turner to ground into a double play.
“I blew the guy’s bat up,” Conley said. “That’s the kind of stuff I’m looking for.”
Although Cosart was shaken up in the collision, he talked the trainer and manager Don Mattingly into letting him face two more batters. He struck out the side.
“I was not coming out,” Cosart said. “I told them if they took me out I was going to freak out.”
Marlins pitchers notched their second pickoff in as many days when Patrick Johnson came into the game and picked off Chris Bostick at first before throwing a pitch.
Nationals: Stephen Strasburg and former Washington teammate Jordan Zimmermann make their spring debuts when the Tigers visit the Nats on Saturday.
Marlins: LHP Wei-Yin Chen makes his first start since signing an $80 million, five-year deal with the Marlins when they host the Cardinals on Saturday.
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