VIERA, Fla. — Gio Gonzalez needed only 19 pitches to get through his two innings Monday, so the Washington lefty went to the bullpen and threw 15 more.
Gonzalez got off to a sharp start this spring in the Nationals' 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. He gave up one hit, walked none and struck out one.
"I wasn't thinking about pitch count or anything like that," he said. "I was just going out there to try to attack the strike zone."
Almost an afterthought in a rotation that includes Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg, Gonzalez won 21 games in 2012, his first season in Washington.
Gonzalez has won a combined 21 games in the past two seasons. He went 10-10 with a 3.57 ERA last year for the NL East champions and spent time on the disabled list with inflammation in his left shoulder.
Gonzalez has said all spring that he's just happy to be healthy this season, and it certainly showed in his first spring training start.
"My arm felt fantastic — strong," Gonzalez said. "My shoulder felt great."
Tanner Roark, who replaced Gonzalez, gave up a two-run homer to Eric Young Jr. in the third.
A day after nine Braves pitchers combined for a 10-inning no-hitter against Houston, Atlantalefty Wandy Rodriguez retired his first eight batters before Tony Gwynn Jr. singled with two outs in the third.
Rodriguez pitched three scoreless innings.
Steven Lerud hit a two-out, ground-rule double in the bottom of the ninth to score Washington's run. Wilmer Difo struck out against Jacob Brigham with runners at second and third to end the game.
Daniel Castro had three hits for the Braves. Anthony Rendon and Tony Gwynn Jr. each had two hits for Washington.
Rodriguez gave up two hits and struck out two.
"I saw him spin the breaking ball pretty darn good," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "The first at-bat against Rendon ... he don't look bad against anybody, and he punched him out on a couple of pretty good, solid breaking balls."
Braves: Gonzalez said the team was still waiting to get a report on LHP Mike Minor, who was scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews. Minor has been experiencing tightness in his left shoulder.
Nationals: CF Denard Span underwent surgery to repair his right core muscle on Monday and will miss the season opener. Manager Matt Williams said it would be four to six weeks before Span could resume baseball activities. ... OF Nate McLouth is getting at-bats in minor league games, but is still on a throwing program as he rehabs from offseason shoulder surgery.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO IMPRESS
Although Williams said Michael Taylor would get more opportunities to play now that Span will be out, it could also open up playing time for Gwynn, who is 3 for 5 in four spring games for Washington.
"The one thing about this organization I've seen from the other side is that they've always been pretty good about having depth for these types of situations," Gwynn said. "I'm just hoping to be able to fill in that role for the meantime."