The Washington Nationals' miserable road trip finally is over, although home hasn't exactly provided them with much relief, either.
Gio Gonzalez certainly seems to prefer the mound at Nationals Park, and he'll look to bounce back from one of the worst starts of his career when he faces the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
Washington (60-60) dropped four games behind the New York Mets for the NL East lead after falling 3-2 to Colorado on Thursday, completing a 3-7 road trip. The slump has prevented them from gaining ground on the Mets, who have dropped four of five.
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Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer for Washington, which likely would need to win the East to make the playoffs. It sits 8 1/2 behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild card.
Getting back on track at home would be a step in the right direction, but the Nationals have gone just 6-9 there following a nine-game winning streak from June 19-July 5.
Gonzalez (9-5, 3.86 ERA) should be happy to see Nationals Park, where he is 5-1 with a 2.60 ERA in nine home starts. He'll also be facing a Milwaukee team that has averaged 2.0 runs while dropping nine of 11 on the road.
The left-hander went 5-0 with a 1.48 ERA over his previous eight starts overall before giving up six runs in 2 2-3 innings of Saturday's 12-6 loss at San Francisco that increased his road ERA to 4.84.
It also marked Gonzalez's shortest start since going two innings in a loss to Kansas City in 2010 while with Oakland.
"It (stinks) because I didn't do anything to help out. I basically put our team in the hole," Gonzalez said. "I was falling behind on hitters. It's a tough pill to swallow."
He didn't last very long in his last start against the Brewers, either, allowing three runs and walking three in 3 1-3 innings before the Nationals rallied for a 5-4 win July 20, 2014.
Milwaukee (52-70) will play its next five on the road after being home for 17 of its last 20. It avoided a three-game sweep with Wednesday's 8-7 win over Miami as Ryan Braun passed Robin Yount as the franchise's all-time leader with his 252nd career homer.
Khris Davis hit a two-run shot in the second and a three-run homer the next inning for his third multihomer game of the month. His four two-homer games have accounted for more than half of his 14 home runs on the season.
"You wish you could figure it out a little bit, but it's fun to watch," manager Craig Counsell said. "That's Khris Davis. You don't know when it's going to come, but he has such a chance to impact games."
Jimmy Nelson (9-9, 3.61) has been effective lately, going 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last five starts while pitching into the seventh in each. He wasn't as sharp in his fourth straight home outing Saturday, though he did pick up a 4-2 win over Philadelphia.
"(Nelson) kind of battled himself all night a little bit, but it's still a good sign that he throws 6 2-3 innings and gives up two runs," Counsell said.
The right-hander had one of his worst outings against the Nationals on June 13, when he allowed each run and 10 hits over five-plus innings in a 7-2 loss. Yunel Escobar and Wilson Ramos each hit two-run homers off Nelson, and Bryce Harper went 2 for 2.