Offseason acquisition Gio Gonzalez makes his first start in front of his new fans today when the Washington Nationals open their 2012 home schedule with the first of a four-game set with the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park.
The 26-year-old from Hialeah, Fla. was a 15- and 16-game winner in the last two seasons with Oakland before heading to Washington in a six-player deal in December.
He opened his initial National League season on the road at Chicago and picked up a no-decision after allowing seven hits and four runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Cubs in a game the Nationals won, 7-4.
Gonzalez has made one career start against the Reds and came away with a no- decision from a strong effort, in which he allowed a single unearned run on four hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out nine.
Washington continued one of the best starts in recent franchise history on Wednesday, when Stephen Strasburg outdueled Johan Santana and the Nationals topped the New York Mets, 4-0, in the finale of a three-game series.
Strasburg (1-0) struck out nine and gave up just two hits and three walks in six innings. He went over 100 pitches for the first time in his career, with 63 of 108 going for strikes.
Twenty-four of those pitches came during the sixth, when Strasburg gave up a walk and a single, but Nats manager Davey Johnson left him in.
Strasburg and three other Nats pitchers struck out 15 batters in the three-hit shutout. Nationals batters drew 10 walks for the first time in almost three years and Mets manager Terry Collins was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Larry Vanover during the game
The Reds pulled to .500 and salvaged a three-game set of their own on Wednesday, when pinch hitter Chris Heisey lined the second pitch he saw into left-center field to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting Cincinnati past St. Louis, 4-3.
Heisey's hit scored Joey Votto, who had led off the ninth with a double.
Votto had four hits, an RBI and two runs scored for the Reds.
Marc Rzepczynski (0-1) surrendered Votto's double in the ninth and took the loss, while Aroldis Chapman (2-0) got the win for Cincinnati after striking out five in two scoreless innings.
Johnny Cueto allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings for the Reds.
Cincinnati sends its own prime offseason acquisition, righty Mat Latos, to the mound for the second time against the Nationals.
The 24-year-old Virginia native won 14 games for San Diego in 2010 and earned nine more last season before heading east in a trade that sent former ace Edinson Volquez to the Padres.
Latos was roughed up in his initial outing as a Red, surrendering seven hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings of an 8-3 loss to Miami on April 7.
He's won three of four career decisions against the Nationals and has given up just six runs on 18 hits in 24 2/3 innings, while walking nine and striking out 27.
The Reds won four of six versus the Nationals a season ago, but both losses came in Washington.