|Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER|
That look obviously didn't produce much offensively and resulted in a frustrating, 3-2 loss, so Davey proclaimed afterward he planned to go back to the Harper-as-leadoff-man lineup tonight (assuming LaRoche was ready to return). "I do like Harper leading off," the manager said. "I think that frees him up. He's usually on base."
Unfortunately, LaRoche remains out once again, so it's back to the same lineup from last night. We'll have to see if it can mount a challenge against Zack Greinke, and if Gio Gonzalez can out-duel the Dodgers right-hander.
Updates to come...
LOS ANGELES DODGERS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, Ch. 9, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500), XM 89
Weather: Isolated storms, 90 degrees, Wind 12 mph out to CF
CF Denard Span
2B Anthony Rendon
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
1B Chad Tracy
C Wilson Ramos
LHP Gio Gonzalez
2B Mark Ellis
RF Yasiel Puig
1B Adrian Gonzalez
SS Hanley Ramirez
3B Juan Uribe
CF Andre Ethier
LF Scott Van Slyke
C Tim Federowicz
RHP Zack Greinke
HP Chad Fairchild
1B Jeff Kellogg (cc)
2B Eric Cooper
3B Paul Schrieber
7:07 p.m. — And we're underway on another steamy July night in the District. Gio Gonzalez starts off Mark Ellis with a fastball for ball one.
7:15 p.m. — As has often been the case this season, Gio got himself into some trouble in the top of the first. This time, though, he got out of it without any damage at all. After a leadoff walk, Mark Ellis advanced to third base on a pair of groundballs. With Hanley Ramirez at the plate in a big spot, Gonzalez got ahead in the count 1-2, then tried to sneak a curveball around the outside corner. Ump Chad Fairchild wouldn't give him the call, but Gio went right back to the curveball on the next pitch and got Ramirez to whiff. Nicely done.
7:29 p.m. — Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Nats loaded the bases early and had an opposing starter on the ropes, only to squander the opportunity. They got a pair of walks and a Ryan Zimmerman single in the bottom of the first against Zack Greinke. That brought their hottest hitters (Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond) to the plate and they still couldn't convert. Werth got ahead in the count 2-0, took two strikes, then on a 3-2 pitch popped up to the catcher. Desmond capped it off by popping up to the second baseman, drawing boos from the crowd. Hard to blame fans for feeling that way right now about a Nats lineup that just cannot produce in big situations. Scoreless after one.
7:45 p.m. — A leadoff double for Chad Tracy (yes, that's not a mistake) in the bottom of the second, but the Nats still found a way to squander it. Wilson Ramos grounded out to the shortstop. Gio sac bunted Tracy to third. Span flied out to center. So two innings in, the Nats already are 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, 0-for-3 with a man on third. It's still scoreless after two.
7:52 p.m. — Yes, Yasiel Puig is an electric ballplayer. But the Nats pitching staff has really handled him well so far in this series. He's now 0-for-6 with three strikeouts after Gio busted him inside with a fastball in the top of the third. Nice job by Gonzalez through three scoreless innings tonight, including four strikeouts. Still 0-0 here.
8:09 p.m. — I really don't know what else to say, except: It happened again. Two on, one out in the third, and again nothing. Werth and Desmond each battled to a full count, but that means nothing if the results aren't there. The Nats already are 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, and we've only played three innings. Still 0-0.
8:31 p.m. — Well, at least nobody was in scoring position in the fourth when they failed to score. You just hope they're not going to waste what is shaping up to be another outstanding start by Gio. Scoreless through four.
8:39 p.m. — Zack Greinke tonight vs. Gio Gonzalez: 2-for-2. Everybody else in the Dodgers lineup vs. Gio Gonzalez: 1-for-15, 9 strikeouts. Excellent stuff from Gio through five scoreless.
9:00 p.m. — Make it 11 strikeouts for Gio, matching his career high. And he's only through six innings of what remains a 0-0 ballgame. It would be a travesty to waste this performance tonight.
9:11 p.m. — Tough decision for Davey in the bottom of the sixth. With two on and two out, the pitcher's spot came up. Gio was pitching an absolute gem, with only 98 pitches on his tally. But in a scoreless game, Davey had to try for the run, so he sent up Roger Bernadina to pinch-hit. And The Shark delivered, blooping a base hit to right to score Tracy (now 3-for-3!) with the night's first run. So it's 1-0 Nats after six, and now it's up to the bullpen to hold that lead. Drew Storen in for the seventh.
9:23 p.m. — And Storen gives the run right back. He got two quick outs, but then Skip Schumaker launched a double off the wall in right-center and Mark Ellis singled to left on an 0-2 pitch, tying the game 1-1. That elicited some boos from the sellout crowd of 41,816, though not as many as rained down after Storen threw his next pitch over Puig's head. Somehow, he got out of the inning, but that wasn't pretty. It's 1-1 at the stretch.
9:43 p.m. — And the frustration continues in the bottom of the seventh. Despite hits by Span and Zimmerman, the Nats couldn't score. Span was called out on a close play at second base when Rendon bunted (not a call I liked), and Davey argued vehemently with umpire Eric Cooper. Then Harper struck out against lefty Paco Rodriguez for the second straight night. And Werth grounded to short, with Zimmerman called out on another bang-bang play at second. So the Nats are now 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position tonight, 2-for-18 in the series. And it remains 1-1 as Tyler Clippard enters for the eighth.
9:58 p.m. — Man, talk about some tense moments in the top of the eighth. Clippard was on his way to a 1-2-3 inning, until Zimmerman airmailed a routine throw to first base for a two-base error. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that was his first throwing error in more than a month. It nearly came back to haunt the Nats after Clippard walked Ethier, but he battled back to get Carl Crawford to ground out and end the inning. Bottom of the eighth now, still 1-1.
10:20 p.m. — More frustration. The Nats had the opportunity to score the go-ahead run in the eighth but once again couldn't do it. They wasted Desmond's leadoff single and stolen base, which was followed by Tracy's productive out. But with Desmond on third and one out, Ramos walked, Scott Hairston struck out on a 2-2 fastball and Span flied out to left against lefty J.P. Howell. So if you've lost track, the Nats are now 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position tonight, 2-for-21 in the series. Onto the ninth, and here's Soriano pitching in a tie game. Where have we seen this before?
10:30 p.m. — And Soriano comes up big to strike out Puig (now 0-for-9 with five strikeouts in the series). Onto the bottom of the ninth, and it'll be Rendon, Zimmerman and Harper up for the Nats.
10:41 p.m. — And we're going to extra innings. Chris Withrow retires the side, ending it with a flourish: a 3-2 slider that completely froze Harper. Onto the 10th, and it'll be Craig Stammen out of the Nats bullpen.
11:04 p.m. — And the Dodgers immediately take the lead on Stammen, getting back-to-back doubles from Gonzalez and Ramirez. Stammen has now been scored upon in seven of his last 10 appearances, his worst stretch in more than two years. Ethier's sac fly off Ian Krol makes it 3-1 and really puts the Nats in a hole heading to the bottom of the 10th.
11:14 p.m. — And that will do it. The Nats lose 3-1 in 10 innings. I'd call this the most frustrating loss of the season, but there have been too many of those lately to rank them. They have, however, now lost seven of their last nine, falling below the .500 mark for the first time since June 19. And all they need to do to avoid the sweep tomorrow is beat Clayton Kershaw. Oof.