Gio Gonzalez tries to win his third straight start overall and his sixth in a row on the road when the Nationals take on Atlanta in the rubber match of a three-game series at Turner Field.
Gonzalez has won five straight decisions on the road in a single season for the first time in his career. The lefty hasn't dropped an away contest since April 29 against the Dodgers. That's his lone road defeat (6-1) of the year.
Gonzalez is 1-1 in two starts against the Braves and both of those appearances came this season in back-to-back starts. On May 27 at Turner Field, he gave up just one hit and fanned 10 over seven innings in a 7-2 win.
The Nationals face a formidable opponent in Tim Hudson this afternoon.
The veteran right-hander has also won his last two starts and has dominated the Washington franchise over his career, going 14-4 with a 2.35 ERA in 24 starts. However, the Nats hit Hudson hard in a 7-4 Atlanta loss on May 25. In that game, he gave up eight hits and seven runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Yesterday, Mike Minor battled through five innings on the mound in the excessive Georgia heat as the Braves won, 7-5.
Minor (4-6) allowed four runs on five hits and walked five with two strikeouts to claim the win. Kris Medlen, Chad Durbin and Eric O'Flaherty navigated through the next three frames before Craig Kimbrel worked a perfect ninth to notch his 23rd save of the season.
Andrelton Simmons went 3-for-4 and was one of seven Braves to pick up an RBI in the victory, which snapped a brief two-game skid. Michael Bourn added a double, two runs scored and three walks for Atlanta.
"It was hot," Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla said of the conditions. "You really need to hydrate and go out there and battle. Both teams did. We were lucky to come back and get on top and hold the lead."
The game-time temperature yesterday was 104 degrees, and it's expected to be just as hot today at some point during the contest.
Adam LaRoche clubbed an RBI double and scored twice, and Ryan Zimmerman added an RBI groundout for the Nats, who had won three of four coming in. Michael Morse added two hits in defeat.
The oppressive heat did claim one victim on Saturday, as Washington starter Stephen Strasburg (9-3) lasted just three innings due to heat exhaustion. He struggled with his command -- walking four -- while allowing three runs on two hits and striking out four.
"I didn't know what was going on," Strasburg said of being pulled from the game. "I went out there and just wanted to stay in, just try and push through it, but I guess you have to listen to your trainers. They're looking at my overall health and not necessarily how I'm pitching."
The Nationals have won five of seven versus the Braves this season, including a three-game sweep in Atlanta from May 25-27.