While their best player visited the doctor and their offense remained absent, the Washington Nationals' starting rotation again made anything seem possible. Ryan Zimmerman can flirt with the disabled list, and their starting eight position players can scrape together two hits. Send Gio Gonzalez to the mound, and nothing else matters.

Tuesday night, while Zimmerman received an MRI that returned unfavorable results, Gonzalez delivered another dazzling start in a 3-1 victory over the San Diego Padres before 16,599 at Petco Park. Gonzalez fired six shutout innings, running his personal scoreless streak to 20 innings and lowering his ERA to 1.52. Gonzalez allowed two hits, increasing his total over his 20 innings of zeros to a scant six.

Gonzalez out-dueled left-hander Clayton Richard, who held the Nationals hitless for four innings and scoreless for six. They finally broke through in the seventh, when Chad Tracy reprised his season-opening role as an off-the-bench hero with a two-run, pinch-hit single.