It was 93° in the nation's capital with 95% humidity when the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers started the first game of three in their weekend series in D.C. Stephen Strasburg threw a 96 mph 2-2 fastball to Carl Crawford and got a weak grounder to Chad Tracy at first base for the first out of tonight's game in Nationals Park. Rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig's first career at bat against the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick ended with Jayson Werth pulling a foul ball to the right field seats back out of the stands for out no.2 of LA's first. Adrian Gonzalez lined a single to center with two down, but Strasburg popped Hanley Ramirez up with a 2-2 curve to end a 17-pitch opening frame vs the Dodgers.
Denard Span took a 3-1 fastball inside from Dodgers' starter Ricky Nolasco to walk in the first at bat of the bottom of the first inning. Anthony Rendon started up 3-0, but grounded sharply to second to start a 4-6-3 DP on a 3-1 fastball from Nolasco, who was through the first on 14 pitches after Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to second too.
Andre Ethier took a high 3-0 pitch from Stephen Strasburg for a ball and a leadoff walk in the top of the second, but the runner was erased three pitches later when the Nats' starter got a 6-4-3 DP out of Dodgers' backstop A.J. Ellis. Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis hit back-to-back two-out singles to push Strasburg up to 10 pitches in the inning, but a 2-2 heater to the opposing pitcher ended the second scoreless inning by the Nationals' right-hander after 15 pitches. 32 total after two. 0-0 in D.C.
Bryce Harper doubled to start the Nationals' second, then tagged and tried to take third on Dodgers' right fielder Yasiel Puig's arm. The 22-year-old LA outfielder threw a strike to third that allowed Juan Uribe to tag Harper's leg as the Nats' 20-year-old slugger slid headfirst into third, but third base ump Eric Cooper missed the call and said Harper was safe. A wild pitch in the next at bat allowed Harper to score and Ian Desmond hit the second double of the inning off Nolasco one pitch later to put another runner in scoring position. Double no.25 for Desmond, but he was stranded at third. 1-0 Nationals after two in Washington.
• Watch Puig's ridiculous throw (h/t @ChrisMottram):
Just watch this throw from Puig over and over. Bryce was called safe, but clearly was out. https://t.co/XW5YuDfjeg— Chris Mottram (@ChrisMottram) July 19, 2013
Stephen Strasburg threw a wipeout 0-2 change to get Carl Crawford swinging for the first out of the third. Yasiel Puig battled for nine pitches before striking out on a 97 mph 3-2 heater from Strasburg for out no.2, but Adrian Gonzalez was 2 for 2 tonight after he took an 0-1 change back up the middle for a two-out hit and LA shortstop Hanley Ramirez was 1 for 2 with a two-out, two-run home run after he took a 95 mph first-pitch fastball from Strasburg to right and over the out-of-town scoreboard for his ninth HR of 2013 and a 2-1 Dodgers' lead. A 19-pitch third inning for Strasburg ended with Andre Ethier swinging through a 1-2 change as the Nats' starter struck out the side.
Given a lead to work with, Ricky Nolasco retired the Nationals in order in a 12-pitch bottom of the third that had the Dodgers' right-hander at 40 pitches after three. 2-1 LA.
Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis hit back-to-back, one-out singles off Stephen Strasburg in the top of the fourth, but Ricky Nolasco bunted both runners over/gave up an out and Carl Crawford flew to center to end a 16-pitch inning that had the Nationals' starter up to 67 pitches after the Dodgers' fourth.
Ryan Zimmerman singled to start the Nats' fourth, taking a 1-0 fastball from Nolasco back up the middle. Zimmerman tested and bested Yasiel Puig on a single to right by Bryce Harper. Puig's high throw allowed Harper to take second as well. Jayson Werth battled for seven pitches before walking to load the bases in front of Ian Desmond, but Desmond grounded weakly to third on check-swing at a 1-1 curve, allowing Juan Uribe to throw home for the first out of the inning. Chad Tracy flew to left on the first pitch he saw for out no.2 and Wilson Ramos grounded back to the mound to let Nolasco off the hook. 2-1 Dodgers.
Bryce Harper stood at the track in left in front of the visitor's dugout and waited a while for Yasiel Puig's fly ball to left to fall into his glove for the first out of the fifth. Nice bat toss, Yasiel. Adrian Gonzalez grounded weakly to first on an 0-1 change from Stephen Strasburg for out no.2, and Strasburg got Hanley Ramirez swinging with a 1-2 change that darted across the zone inside to end a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the fifth inning. 79 pitches total for Strasburg after five. Denard Span reached safely on a one-out infield single to short that Hanley Ramirez barehanded but pocketed, but Anthony Rendon grounded into this second double play of the night to end a quick, nine-pitch bottom of the fifth for Ricky Nolasco. Still 2-1 LA.
The Dodgers went down in order again in the sixth, with Juan Uribe striking out on 1-2 curve for the eighth-straight out recorded by Stephen Strasburg going back to Mark Ellis' one-out single in the fourth. The 14-pitch frame had the Nats' right-hander at 93 overall after six. Ryan Zimmerman singled to left on an 0-1 curve from Nolasco to start the home-half of the frame. Nolasco threw a 3-2 slider to Bryce Harper to get the aggressive outfielder swinging for the first out of the Nats' sixth. Jayson Werth hit a trademark single™ through short in the next at bat, however, sending Zimmerman from first-to-third™ and putting runners on the corners in front of Ian Desmond and Desmond's weak fly to center fell in for an RBI single, so Ricky Nolasco left the game after 90 pitches with the score tied. 2-2 in D.C. after six.
Ian Desmond threw Mark Ellis out after backhanding the Dodgers' infielder's grounder. Nick Punto popped out to center. Carl Crawford's sharp groundout to second ended an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 inning, after which Stephen Strasburg had retired 11-straight batters. 104 pitches total.
Strasburg's Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 104 P, 71 S, 8/3 GO/FO.
Steve Lombardozzi hit for Strasburg with one down in Nats' seventh and singled to left off Dodgers' reliever Jose Dominguez. Paco Rodriguez came out of the bullpen, though, and got a groundout from Denard Span and help from Yasiel Puig on a crazy catch down the third base line to rob Anthony Rendon on what would have been a foul ball. Puig ran into the wall at full speed after making the catch and bounced to the ground. Three outs. 2-2 after seven.
Tyler Clippard retired the Dodgers in order in a dominant, 14-pitch top of the eighth. Ryan Zimmerman stepped in against Dodgers' lefty Paco Rodriguez and battled for six pitches before grounding out to short to start the bottom of the inning. Bryce Harper K'd swinging at an 0-2 curve in the dirt for out no.2. The Dodgers went to the pen at that point for right-hander Ronald Belisario, who popped Jayson Werth up to end the eighth. Still 2-2 in D.C.
Rafael Soriano came out for the top of the ninth and the fifth pitch he threw was golfed out to right by Andre Ethier for a go-ahead home run that made it 3-2 LA. Soriano retired the next three batters to send it to the bottom of the ninth with the Nationals down by one. Kenley Jansen came on to close it out. Ian Desmond took an 95 mph 0-2 cutter for a called strike three. Chad Tracy grounded weakly to the right side on the first pitch he saw for out no.2. Wilson Ramos? The Nats' catcher battled for seven pitches but K'd swinging to end it. 3-2 Dodgers.
Nationals now 48-48