KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Gio Gonzalez and the Washington bullpen combined on a five-hitter, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy drove in first-inning runs and the Nationals beat the Kansas City Royals 2-0 on Monday night.

Gonzalez (2-1) scattered four hits and a pair of walks over six innings in his latest smooth start. He’s only allowed four earned runs combined in his first five outings.

Sammy Solis needed eight pitches for a spotless seventh, and Shawn Kelley and Oliver Perez combined to strike out three straight after a leadoff double in the eighth.

Jonathan Papelbon breezed through a perfect ninth as the Nationals followed up a sweep of the Cardinals with their fourth straight win.

Edinson Volquez (3-2) needed 29 pitches just to navigate the decisive first inning for Kansas City. But he wound up giving his team a chance, allowing seven hits and a walk in 7 2/3 innings.

The loss was the sixth in seven games for the weak-hitting Royals. Three have been shutouts.

In the first inning, it looked as if the Nationals would continue the misery Volquez experienced his last time out against the Angels, when he allowed eight runs on a career-high 12 hits in five innings.

Michael Taylor worked a full-count, leadoff walk, and Anthony Rendon followed with a single. Zimmerman drove in the game’s first run with a double, and Murphy’s run-scoring groundout made it 2-0.

Volquez eventually settled down, retiring nine straight before Murphy’s single in the fourth. But by that point, Gonzalez was doing such a good job keeping the slumping Kansas City lineup off balance that even a two-run lead seemed insurmountable.

Gonzalez didn’t allow a single until the third, then watched catcher Jose Lobaton throw out Lorenzo Cain trying to steal to end the inning. Gonzalez allowed another single in the fifth before getting out of a two-on, one-out jam by inducing back-to-back fly balls to end the sixth.

Alcides Escobar brought some life to a crowd of 32,394 with his double off Kelley in the eighth, but the Washington reliever bounced back to strike out Cain. Perez set down Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales to end the inning, and Papelbon took care of the rest.


Kansas City outfielder Alex Gordon was plunked leading off the second inning. It was the 71st time that Gordon has been hit by a pitch, tying him with David DeJesus for third-most in club history.


Royals RHP Luke Hochevar was available out of the bullpen after getting a couple of days off to rest some minor tightness in his elbow. Hochevar has had Tommy John surgery in the past, so manager Ned Yost said he was being cautious with him. “He feels good,” Yost said.


Royals RHP Chris Young and Nationals RHP Tanner Roark spent part of the 2013 season as teammates at Triple-A Syracuse in the Nationals organization. Young returned to the big leagues the following season with Seattle, and he has spent the past two seasons in Kansas City.


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