Werth homers, Gonzalez wins, as Nationals defeat Twins 8-4
WASHINGTON (AP) Jayson Werth said he's starting to feel more comfortable as the Washington Nationals left fielder.
He looked it on Friday night.
Werth hit a home run and robbed one in left, Gio Gonzalez pitched six-plus innings, and the Nationals defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-4.
In the third, Byron Buxton's high fly gave Werth time to get back to the fence. He timed his jump perfectly, getting his glove just above the wall and bringing Buxton's drive down with him.
''You can tell he played basketball,'' manager Dusty Baker said. ''He timed it like a rebound.''
The 36-year-old Werth transitioned to left last season, but was limited to 88 games due to injury, so the question remains as to how well he'll adjust to being out there every day.
''Starting to get there. Feeling confident,'' said Werth, who added a nice running catch to end the third. ''When I first came up I played left. ... I feel like as the season goes on I'll just keep getting better and better out there.''
Jose Lobaton drove in three runs with a triple and a single, and National League batting leader Daniel Murphy had two more hits for first-place Washington, which has won six straight at home.
Washington's 12-4 record matches the best start in Expos/Nationals franchise history.
In the fifth, Werth hit a solo shot to left center, his third.
Gonzalez (1-0) enjoyed offensive support for the first time in three starts while allowing three runs - two earned - on six hits.
''Gio was tough,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ''He can paint the outside with his fastball and change and he keeps you honest inside, and not too many of our guys picked up his curveball.''
Minnesota's Kyle Gibson (0-3) lasted just three innings, giving up seven runs on seven hits.
Miguel Sano homered and singled for the Twins.
Murphy, who went 2 for 4 to raise his average to .411, has hit safely in 14 of 16 games. Danny Espinosa added two hits and two RBIs for Washington.
The Nationals, who only produced one run for Gonzalez in his first two starts, collected four in a first inning capped by Lobaton's two-run single.
''Any time I needed to make a pitch with two strikes and guys on base or even guys not on base and two strikes, just didn't do it,'' Gibson said.
Washington made it 7-0 with three in the third, one coming on Lobaton's first triple since 2013.
The Twins wore purple wrist bands to honor Minneapolis native Prince, who died Thursday at the age of 57. ''Just a small tribute,'' Molitor said. ''But our clubhouse guy came up with the idea, and we were able to get them so that's what we're going to do.''
In addition, both teams' media game notes featured Prince-related item titles, and the Nationals played a video tribute to the artist during batting practice.
Lobaton's triple ended when he slid late into third, landing on the bag and sliding past it before scrambling back safely.
''I mean slow it down cowboy,'' Gonzalez joked about his catcher's slide.
Twins: C Kurt Suzuki, given a day off Thursday after getting hit by a foul ball on Wednesday night, was back behind the plate.
Nationals: OF Ben Revere, out since April 6 with a right oblique strain, has begun sprinting and hitting off a tee, according to manager Dusty Baker. ... RHP Joe Ross, who left his start Wednesday in the third inning with a blister on his middle finger, will have his regular throwing session Saturday. With an off day Monday, Baker said if Ross can't make his next start, the Nationals will skip his turn.
Twins: RHP Phil Hughes (1-2, 4.42) makes his third career appearance and second start against the Nationals. He's 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA against Washington.
Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (1-2, 3.71) makes his first regular-season appearance against the Twins. Roark allowed four earned runs on seven hits over six innings in a loss to the Marlins on Monday