That hasn't stopped him from putting together an impressive start this season.
One day after Strasburg pitched just two innings before leaving a loss to San Francisco with shoulder tightness, the Nationals will look to Gonzalez (6-2, 2.27 ERA) to even the series when the teams meet Saturday afternoon.
"Hopefully, Gio can go out there and give us a good seven innings and we'll get straightened out," Giants manager Dave Martinez said after using six relievers to cover the final seven innings of Friday night's 9-5 loss.
It's a good bet. Gonzalez has gone at least seven innings in his last three starts, allowing five runs in 21 2/3 innings (2.08 ERA). The left-hander hasn't lost since April 23. Though he allows his share of baserunners, he's holding opposing hitters to a .127 average with runners in scoring position.
Last time out, he allowed three runs to Atlanta in a game won by Washington in 14 innings. He's 5-5 with a 3.21 ERA in 13 starts against the Giants.
Friday night's game turned sour for Washington early. Strasburg (6-6) gave up three runs and five hits before departing.
"His shoulder tightened up on him," Martinez said. "He's got a little bit of inflammation."
Strasburg, who has been on the disabled list at least once in each of the last three seasons, said he had dealt with the issue before Friday. He'll have an MRI on Saturday.
"I don't expect to feel 100 percent every time and whatever percent I'm at I'm gonna go out there and give it everything I have," Strasburg said. "Unfortunately, today it just seemed to increase ... so I'm just going see what they have to say (Saturday)."
"Anything can happen in a one-run game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's always nice to have a cushion and the guys gave us that and it allows you to do some things."
McCutchen's solo home run in the first inning was his third in five games, and he later singled. He entered the game 3-for-22 against Strasburg.
After a 5-1 homestand, the Giants are off to a good start on their 10-game road trip.
"I think we're just building momentum off what we did this past homestand," McCutchen said. "We just carried the momentum going on the road and keep doing what we've been doing."
Staked to the early lead, Giants rookie Andrew Suarez couldn't finish the fifth, allowing four runs and six hits in his ninth start.
Rookie Dereck Rodriguez (1-0, 1.93 ERA) will make his second major league start on Saturday. In his first one, he allowed one run and five hits in six innings of a 6-1 victory.
Rodriguez is the son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who finished his career with the Nationals.
Washington could activate outfielder Adam Eaton (left ankle surgery) for Saturday's game. Eaton completed a rehab assignment this week and worked out with the Nationals on Friday.