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Sean Doolittle blows first save of season, Nationals drop 5-4 decision to Dodgers...

Sean Doolittle was 9 for 9 in save opportunities before he finally blew one tonight, giving up two runs in the ninth inning in a 5-4 loss to the Dodgers in Nationals Park.

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MLB: Game Two-Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Doolittle was a perfect 9 for 9 in save opportunities this seasonwhen he took the hill in the ninth inning in Nationals Park tonight with a 4-3 lead and gave up three straight hits and two runs in what ended up being a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Matt Kemp came up with the big hit, a pinch hit double that drove in two runs and put LA on top in D.C.

Kemp’s hit was his 15th in 32 ABs with runners in scoring position in 2018 (.469 AVG).

Max Scherzer threw 121 pitches overall on the night, struck out 13 of the 29 batters he faced in seven innings, drove in a run with an RBI single, and extended a personal unbeaten streak to eight straight starts going back to his second outing of the 2018 campaign...

Scherzer vs the Dodgers: Max Scherzer brought a seven-start unbeaten streak into his outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight, over which he’d put up a 1.70 ERA, 10 walks, 74 Ks, and a .146/.209/.287 line against in 47 23 innings pitched.

Scherzer struck out 11 of the 25 batters he faced when he went up against the D-backs last week in Phoenix, AZ’s Chase Field, giving up a run on four hits in a 99-pitch, seven-inning start.

It was Scherzer’s sixth start in nine outings this season in which he reached double digits in Ks.

MLB: Game Two-Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight in the nation’s capital, Scherzer and the Nationals fell behind early with a fly to left off Joc Pederson’s bat falling in for a hit when Andrew Stevenson misjudged it and let it go as he neared the corner wall, only to have it drop in behind him and inside the line. An RBI single by Max Muncy in the next at bat brought Pederson in from second to make it 1-0 LA in the first.

Scherzer struck out three straight after the run scored, and picked up two Ks, for five total, in a 1-2-3 second inning, then worked around his first back-to-back walks of the season in a 20-pitch third that left him at 60 pitches overall.

After stranding two in a 14-pitch fourth, Scherzer gave up a one-out solo homer to right by Muncy, who hit a 2-2 cutter out for a towering fly that just cleared the high wall, 2-0 LA.

Three more strikeouts, around a one-out double by Yasiel Puig, left Scherzer with 13 Ks total on 108 pitches after six.

Scherzer helped his own cause with a two-out RBI single in the Nationals’ sixth, and came back out for the seventh inning (at 108 pitches) and walked the leadoff batter, but one out later, Scherzer got an inning-ending 4-6-3 on his 121st pitch of the game.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 13 Ks, 1 HR, 121 P, 89 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

Hill Not on Hill Long: Winless in four starts, with an 8.20 ERA, 10 walks, 20 strikeouts, and a .321/.398/.628 line against over that stretch, and close to a month on the DL in the middle of those four outings, Rich Hill gave up 13 hits (four of them home runs), six walks, and eight runs, (7 ER) over 9 23 IP in his first two outings back after dealing with a split nail on his left middle finger that got infected.

Hill was just two pitches into tonight’s game when he left the mound with another issue on his left hand, which appeared to be a nasty blister.

DODGERS’ BULLPEN ACTION: Scott Alexander took over on the mound for the Dodgers, struck out the side in the first, and worked around a leadoff walk in the second inning for two quick, scoreless frames.

Pedro Baez came on in the third and worked around a hit-by-pitch on Max Scherzer for a scoreless, 21-pitch third inning, then returned in the fourth, giving up a leadoff walk to Wilmer Difo.

Two outs later, Mark Reynolds reached on an error, but both runners were stranded by Baez, and the Nationals were hitless through four.

Yimi Garcia got the bottom of the fifth, and retired the side in order on 10 pitches, then came back out in the sixth, and gave up the Nationals’ first hit of the game, a double to right-center by Trea Turner, who just missed a solo home run.

After Turner took third base on a Wilmer Difo groundout, that was it for Garcia.

Tony Cingrani took over for LA and hit Bryce Harper square in the back with a 1-1 slider to put two on in front of Anthony Rendon, who popped out, but Mark Reynolds lined an RBI double to left in the next at bat to get the Nationals on the board, down 2-1.

Cingrani walked Michael A. Taylor intentionally, so the Dodgers and Nationals mixed things up with Daniel Hudson coming on to face Matt Adams, who hit for Pedro Severino, and sent a single to right field to drive in two for a 3-2 lead, which was up to 4-2 after an RBI single by Scherzer in the next at bat.

Reynolds again: Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked during his weekly visit with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this week about convincing Mark Reynolds to take the minor league deal Washington was offering as the season got underway.

Coming off a .267/.352/.487, 22 double, 30 HR, 0.8 fWAR campaign in Colorado in 2017, the 34-year-old, 11-year veteran was apparently reluctant to accept anything but a major league deal.

Rizzo, who drafted Reynolds when he was the Arizona Diamondbacks’ scouting director in 2004, talked the veteran into taking a deal.

“He was sitting on the couch,” Rizzo explained, “... working out on his own and just trying to piece together what he was going to do after having a really good season last year. [He] was kind of bummed out that he wasn’t getting any major league offers, and he was just working out on his own and waiting for an opportunity, and I think the relationship that we had, we kind of talked him into a role here.”

A few weeks at Triple-A and a couple injuries later, Reynolds got the call, homering twice in his first game in a Nationals uniform, and improving to 4 for 10 on the season when he hit a double to left to drive in the first run of the game for Washington tonight, in what ended up being a four-run frame.

NATS’ BULLPEN ACTION: Sammy Solis took over on the mound for hte Nationals in the top of the eighth, and gave up a one-out homer to center on a 3-2 fastball to Cody Bellinger, 4-3. That was it for Solis.

Brandon Kintzler was up next, and he gave up a triple to center by Chris Taylor on a liner that Michael A. Taylor dove for and missed. Kintzler walked Justin Turner intentionally to potentially set up a double play, and Yasiel Puig did what they wanted him to, sending a chopper up the middle to start an inning-ending 4-3 DP.

Sean Doolittle got the ninth, and gave up back-to-back singles to start the frame in front of pinch hitter Matt Kemp, who lined a two-run double to left field to put the Dodgers up, 5-4.

Kenley Jansen came on for the save opportunity for LA, and locked it down with a 1-2-3 frame.


Final Score: 5-4 Dodgers

Nationals now 24-20