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Washington Nationals drop second straight to Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-2, fourth loss in five since clinching...

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Washington lost for the fourth time in five games since they clinched the NL East, dropping the second straight to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Nationals Park, 3-2 final.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON, D.C.: A.J. Cole started the day with a .301/.407/.521 line against vs left-handed hitters this season (vs a .229/.316/.371 line against vs right-handed hitters) and the lefties in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lineup went 6 for 14 against him, with two doubles, one home run, and a walk, collecting six of the seven hits he allowed while on the hill in the nation’s capital.

Cole left the game in the sixth, with Washington trailing, 3-1 in what ended up a 3-2 loss.

Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker talked before today’s game about wanting to see more energy from his team, who have now dropped four of five since clinching the NL East this past Sunday.

“We’re past celebrating, that’s over, so now we’ve got to take care of business,” Baker said.

Baker’s Nats have to try to get back on track in tomorrow night’s series finale with the Dodgers if they want to avoid getting swept by the same team that knocked them out of the postseason last October. Final Score: 3-2 Dodgers.

Nationals now 89-59

HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:

A.J. Cole retired the side in order in the top of the first, but was down 1-0 one batter into the second when Cody Bellinger hit his 38th home run of the season out to right field on an 0-1 fastball up high from the Nationals’ right-hander. 1-0 Dodgers.

Bellinger got Cole again in the third, punching a two-out, opposite field single to left to drive Chase Utley in from third one out after Utley doubled to right, 2-0 LA.

Dodgers’ lefty Rich Hill walked two and struck out six (four of them looking) through three scoreless and hitless on 53 pitches, but Anthony Rendon broke up his nascent no-hit bid in the fourth with a two-out home run to left on a 1-2 fastball, 2-1 Dodgers.

Utley doubled again to lead off the fifth, lining a 2-1 slider up in the zone through the shift in right field, and he took third on a single by Corey Seager. Justin Turner stepped in with runners on first and third and no one out and hit a long out to center for an RBI sac fly, 3-1 LA.

Oliver Perez took over on the mound for Cole in the sixth after a single and HBP by the first two batters ended the starter’s outing, and retired three straight batters to keep it a two-run game.

• Rich Hill’s Line: 5.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 74 P, 49 S, 2/3 GO/FO.

• A.J. Cole’s Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 92 P, 57 S, 4/1 GO/FO.

Matt Grace threw a quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh, but the Nationals came up empty in the bottom of the inning, with Anthony Rendon singling off Brandon Morrow with one down, but getting doubled up on a Jayson Werth grounder to short that started an inning-ending 6-4-3.

Matt Albers tossed a scoreless top of the eighth and the Nationals threatened in the bottom of the inning with Wilmer Difo reaching on an infield single and Adam Lind on an E:6 that put runners on the corners with one down.

Trea Turner stepped in against Tony Watson, who replaced Ross Stripling after Difo’s hit, and sent an RBI single through short, 3-2, but Daniel Murphy lined out sharply to right where Yasiel Puig made a diving catch to end the threat and the eighth.

Ryan Madson hit the first batter he faced, but got a 4-6-3 DP out of pinch hitter Adrian Gonzalez and struck Logan Forsythe out to end a quick, seven-pitch frame.

Kenley Jansen came on for the save opportunity and retired the Nationals in order to end it. Ballgame. Final Score: 3-2 Dodgers.

NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:

  • Los Angeles has a 46-29 advantage over Washington in the all-time series between the two teams, and the Dodgers and Nationals have split the four games they’ve played so far this season.
  • The Dodgers’ 43-29 road record after last night’s win is the second best in the NL, behind only the Nationals (45-27).
  • Heading into play today, Dusty Baker was still one win shy of reaching 90 wins for the 10th time in his second career as a manager.
  • Washington’s offense started the day leading the NL in SLG (.452), run scored (755) and OPS (.785), and the Nationals were ranked second in AVG (.268), and extra-base hits (509).
  • Dodgers’ pitchers started the day leading the NL with a 3.38 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, and a .228 BAA, and 1,412 strikeouts.
  • Anthony Rendon started the day ranked this in the majors and first in the NL in fWAR (6.4).
  • Los Angeles’ +178 run differential heading into play today is the best in the NL, and it’s 32 runs better than the Washington Nationals’ run differential on the season.

Nationals now 89-59