GAME IN A NUTSHELL: If Tuesday night's victory gave Nationals fans reason to calm down and believe things were turning in the right direction, Wednesday night's loss only gave them reason to completely reverse course and now fear the worst. This was among the ugliest games this team has played all season, and it only got worse as the night progressed.
Things started off fine when the Nationals plated a pair of first-inning runs off Rubby De La Rosa. But that's all they managed against the uninspiring Diamondbacks right-hander. Gio Gonzalez, meanwhile, labored to get through five innings on 93 pitches, yet emerged from that allowing only one run thanks to seven strikeouts (all with runners in scoring position).
Then came the top of the sixth inning, at which point the wheels fell off. Gonzalez was pulled after a leadoff single. Aaron Barrett entered and allowed three runs, two on his throwing error. It continued to devolve from that point on, with the Nationals giving up runs on a bases-loaded walk, a 3-run homer and a bases-loaded balk before Tyler Moore was brought in to record the final two outs of the ninth. Yes, Tyler Moore, the second position player ever to pitch in Nats history, both of them coming this season vs. Arizona.
And so the Nationals lost for the fifth time in six games, a span in which the Mets have gone 6-0 and thus now own a 2-game lead in the NL East.
HITTING LOWLIGHT: Everything from the first inning through the eighth inning. The Nationals managed zero runs and four hits after that against Rubby De La Rosa, David Hernandez, Addison Reed and Oliver Perez. Nothing else really to say about that.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: The top of the sixth might as well go down as the worst inning of the Nationals' season. Gonzalez was sitting on 93 pitches after five but hit for himself in the bottom of the inning and took the mound again after that. Except he was pulled after allowing a leadoff single. Enter Barrett, who imploded. The biggest mistake was a horribly wild throw to first base on a sac bunt attempt, the ball rolling all the way past the rolled-up tarp, two runs coming around to score on the play. Barrett wound up facing five batters and allowing four singles, at which point Matt Williams put him out of his misery and called for Roark to clean up the mess. Except Roark issued two straight walks, the latter with the bases loaded. When it was finally over, the Nats' 2-1 lead had turned into a 5-2 deficit that left many in the crowd booing.
KEY STAT: Gonzalez has failed to record an out in the sixth inning seven times in 20 starts this season.
UP NEXT: The series concludes at 4:05 p.m. Thursday when Joe Ross (2-3, 3.00) takes the mound for his seventh career start. Diamondbacks right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 4.95) makes his 129th career start.