The Red Sox fell 4-2 to the Washington Nationals Saturday afternoon behind one bad inning from Daisuke Matsuzaka and a strong performance from Gio Gonzalez.
For much of the game Gio Gonzalez was nigh unhittable. Utilizing a curveball the Sox refused to lay off with excellent fastball control, Gonzalez managed to escape the second after a leadoff double from David Ortiz, and then rolled through the end of the sixth inning, allowing almost nothing in the way of hard contact and baserunners.
Daisuke Matsuzaka also looked good for most of his return outing, but was undone by one bad inning. Losing control of his fastball in the fourth, Matsuzaka surrendered a leadoff walk to Bryce Harper on four pitches, and had Ryan Zimmerman make it first-and-third with a base hit to left. Adam LaRoche would strike out swinging, but some more misplaced heaters gave Mike Morse a ground-rule double, Ian Desmond a ground ball single, and the Nationals three runs. Added to an earlier solo shot, and the score stood at 4-0 through four.
With Franklin Morales holding down the fort starting in the sixth, the Sox would finally break through against Gonzalez in the seventh, with Will Middlebrooks drawing a walk and moving to third on a Mike Aviles single. Craig Stammen would record no outs, walking Ryan Sweeney as he relieved Gio Gonzalez, and Michael Gonzalez quickly gave up a wall ball single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, plating the first two Red Sox runs of the night.
Unfortunately, those would prove to be the only Red Sox runs of the night. While Morales was able to finish the eighth and Aceves to close out the ninth without allowing any more runs, the Sox could push nothing across against the back end of the bullpen, with Tyler Clippard working around a two-out double from Ryan Sweeney to earn the save.