Nationals manager Davey Johnson admits he's a hugger and that he heaped embraces on Gio Gonzalez after his big game Wednesday night.
For the break he gave Washington's overused bullpen, Johnson thinks his relievers should be lining up to hug Gonzalez, too.
Gonzalez pitched a nine-inning complete game and hit a home run -- both career firsts -- to lead the Nationals to a 4-3 victory over the Astros in Houston.
Johnson was hoping Gonzalez (14-6) could go deep into this game after his bullpen had been taxed with games of 11 and 12 innings to start this series.
He got just what he wanted from Gonzalez, whose other complete game was an eight-inning outing when he was with the A's in a 4-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 1, 2010.
"Gio couldn't have been any better," Johnson said. "He pitched an outstanding ballgame. ... It was just a great outing by him to save the bullpen."
Things got dicey in the ninth inning when Gonzalez allowed three hits and a run and had the tying run on third before striking out Matt Downs to end the game.
He allowed nine hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.
Gonzalez broke a 1-1 tie with his two-run, first-pitch homer into the Crawford Boxes in left field in the second inning.
"I couldn't enjoy it too much," Gonzalez said of the home run. "It was one of those things where you hit it and you're like: 'Oh that felt good,' and then move forward after that."
"It means a lot. The first time in my career going nine innings (and) also getting the home run," he said. "Today is one of those things where you can just can smile about it, but tomorrow is a new day,"
Marlins: Heath Bell is close to getting his job back as Miami's closer. Manager Ozzie Guillen said Bell has pitched well enough in a reduced role to merit another shot at the ninth inning. The three-time All-Star signed a $27 million, three-year contract with Miami last December but had struggled so badly in his first season with the Marlins that he was replaced as the team's closer.
Bell is 2-5 with a 5.36 ERA and 19 saves in 25 opportunities. Pitching earlier in the game, however, he has yielded only three hits over nine scoreless innings in his past 10 appearances.
Steve Cishek has not permitted a run in his past 17 games, going 6 for 6 in save chances, since Bell was removed as the closer. But Guillen said pitching Cishek in the seventh and eighth gives him more versatility in the bullpen.
Blue Jays: Outfielder Jose Bautista has been cleared to resume swinging a bat Monday. Toronto manager John Farrell said an MRI exam on Bautista's injured left wrist showed improvement, but there is still some inflammation in one small spot.
Bautista has been out since July 17. He has 27 homers this season after belting 43 last season and a majors-leading 54 in 2010.
Rangers: Catcher Yorvit Torrealba has been placed on waivers. Torrealba, who batted .236 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 45 games, was designated for assignment when Texas acquired catcher Geovany Soto from the Chicago Cubs on July 31. Torrealba will become a free agent if he's not claimed by Friday.