Lefty Gio Gonzalez hopes to repeat the success of his last start and earn an inaugural 2012 victory along the way tonight when the Washington Nationals host the Houston Astros in the second game of a four-game series at Nationals Park.
The 26-year-old, a 31-game winner over the last two seasons in Oakland, was shelled for seven hits and four runs while recording only 11 outs in his Nationals debut in Chicago on April 7, but bounced back with seven scoreless, two-hit innings five days later against Cincinnati.
He's posted no-decisions in both starts though Washington has won both, outscoring the Cubs and Reds by a combined 10-6 count.
Gonzalez pitched a career-high 202 innings with the Athletics last season and allowed just 175 hits while striking out 197 batters and posting a stingy 3.12 earned run average.
He's allowed exactly 500 hits in 546 career innings over 97 appearances, holding opposition hitters to a composite .241 average.
He has never faced the Astros.
Houston counters with 33-year-old Dominican lefty Wandy Rodriguez, who's also made two starts in 2012 and has yet to earn a victory.
An 11-game winner last season with the Astros, Rodriguez has allowed 12 hits and three earned runs in April 6 and 11 outings against Colorado, but has come away with a loss and a no-decision as Houston has gone 0-2.
He's walked three batters and struck out seven across 11 1/3 innings, holding opposing batters to a .250 average that's nine points below his career mark of .259.
Rodriguez has had marked success against Washington in nine career meetings, winning five of six decisions while allowing 52 hits and striking out 44 in 53 innings.
In Monday's series opener, Steve Lombardozzi went 4-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored to lead the Nationals past the Astros, 6-3.
Ryan Zimmerman also knocked in a pair of runs, while Wilson Ramos had a solo home run for the Nationals, who improved to 8-3 on the season to record their best start since moving to Washington from Montreal in 2005.
Stephen Strasburg (2-0) allowed two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five through six innings. Henry Rodriguez worked a scoreless ninth to earn his second save of the year.
Chris Johnson knocked in a pair of runs for Houston, which lost for the fifth time in six games.
Kyle Weiland (0-2) gave up six runs on 10 hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings to absorb the loss.
The Astros and Nats split their six meetings last season, with each team winning twice at home.