03/06/12 3:55 PM ET
Homers back solid Gio as Nats top Braves
Werth, DeRosa go deep to back lefty's strong first impression
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Making his first start in a Nationals uniform, Gonzalez allowed one hit and issued a walk. The southpaw, who was acquired from the A's in January, left two runners stranded in the first inning and would have proven perfect in his final two innings had Ian Desmond not booted a grounder to begin the bottom of the third inning.
Werth's second-inning leadoff homer off Kris Medlen provided a spark for the Nationals, who did not allow Atlanta's top setup relievers to escape their respective Grapefruit League season debuts unscathed.
Chad Tracy hit a two-out, two-run double off Eric O'Flaherty in the third inning, and Mark DeRosa began the fourth inning with a solo homer off Jonny Venters. O'Flaherty ended the 2011 season with 19 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings and Venters has allowed just three home runs in the 171 innings he has combined to pitch the past two years.
The Braves dented the scoreboard when Brian McCann and Dan Uggla began the bottom of the fourth inning with consecutive doubles off Yunesky Maya. McCann also singled in the sixth to give him his second consecutive two-hit game and set the stage for Matt Diaz to deliver a two-out RBI single.
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel worked a scoreless fifth inning, with a walk and a strikeout.
Up next for Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann will make his first start of the year when the Nationals host the defending World Series champion Cardinals in Viera, Fla., on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Fully recovered from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, Zimmermann will not have his innings limited like they were last year.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.