Game in a nutshell: Everything started swimmingly for the Nationals when Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper led off the bottom of the first with back-to-back homers. But Gio Gonzalez labored and couldn't make it through the fifth, and the heart of the Nats' lineup kept coming up short in key situations. Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse went a combined 0-for-12, with Zimmerman's woes continuing as he grounded into a crushing double play with two on and nobody out in the eighth. Relievers Craig Stammen, Mike Gonzalez and Sean Burnett did their part to keep the Braves from adding to their lead, but the Nationals' inability to push across one more run after the first inning ultimately cost them a chance at a fifth straight win over Atlanta.
Hitting highlight: Back-to-back homers from your first two hitters in the first inning? Not a bad way to get things going at the plate. Even better when both players are rookies and hit those homers on consecutive pitches. Lombardozzi was the first to connect, sending a 2-1 fastball from Tommy Hanson off the back wall in the right-field bullpen. The crowd of 38,046 barely had a chance to congratulate Lombo on his first career home run, though, because Harper drilled the very next pitch into the second deck down the right-field line to make it 2-0. An impressive display of power from a pair of rookies being asked to hit atop the lineup of a first-place club.
Pitching lowlight: Gonzalez found out shortly before gametime he had been named NL Pitcher of the Month for May. He didn't exactly make a strong early case for repeat honors in June. His command off from the very beginning, Gonzalez put himself into several jams. He managed to escape without significant damage through the fourth inning, but the wheels came off in the fifth via two singles, two walks and two wild pitches. In the end, Davey Johnson had no choice but to pull his starter with two outs in the fifth, resulting in Gonzalez's shortest outing since his 3 23-inning season debut at Wrigley Field.
Key stat: Gonzalez was attempting to become only the third Nationals pitcher ever to win at least six consecutive starts. The ones who did pull it off: Livan Hernandez (11 straight wins in 2005) and Shairon Martis (six straight wins in 2009).
Up next: Monday's an off-day for the team, but the Nationals' front office will be plenty busy participating in the first round of this year's amateur draft. The Nats hold the 16th pick, their lowest since arriving in town. The club will be back on the field Tuesday night when the Mets come to town for the start of what will be another big, division series.