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Washington Nationals drop series opener to Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-1 ... but at least they played a game!!

After six days in which the Nationals played just 5 1⁄2 innings of baseball, they got back at it this afternoon, dropping a 4-1 decision to the LA Dodgers in Game 1 of today’s doubleheader in D.C.

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

They actually played some baseball today in the nation’s capital, but Los Angeles Dodgers’ starter Ross Stripling held the Washington Nationals’ hitters to one run on four hits over six innings of work, striking out nine, and the Nationals, who had not played a full game since last Sunday in Arizona, dropped the series opener with LA in D.C., 4-1.

Tanner Roark put together a solid outing, giving up six hits and three runs in seven innings of work, but he received one run of support and took a loss for the fourth time over his last eight starts, leaving him (L, 1-4) over that stretch.

Roark vs the Dodgers: In spite of the fact that he’d put up respectable numbers (3.65 ERA, 15 walks, 39 Ks, .201/.281/.371 in 44 13 IP), Nationals’ righty Tanner Roark had just one win over the last seven starts going into this afternoon’s outing against the LA Dodgers, giving us yet another example why pitcher wins as a stat are not a great way to evaluate pitchers’ success.

Roark fell behind early in the first of two to be played today after last night’s game ended up being postponed by inclement weather.

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

Dodgers’ left fielder Joc Pederson caused the Nats’ starter some trouble in the top of the first inning, fouling off four two-strike pitches before tripling to right on the 10th pitch he saw in the first at bat of the series opener in D.C., and he scored on a sac fly to left field by Yasmani Grandal, 1-0.

Bryce Harper tied things up at 1-1 with an RBI single in the third, and Roark held the Dodgers off the board through four, but leadoff and one-out singles in the top of the fifth put runners on the corners, and Cody Bellinger beat out a potential inning-ending 4-6-3 on a grounder to second, allowing Logan Forsythe, who singled to start the frame, to score on the play to make it 2-1 LA.

Yasman Grandal singled to right to start the sixth, and the Dodgers added to their lead on a one-out double to right field by Max Muncy, who line a 2-2 fastball into the corner, 3-1, but a 6-3 DP stranded two and got Roark out of a 19-pitch inning that left him at 104 total in six.

Roark came back out for the seventh, and retired the Dodgers in order in a 13-pitch frame that left him at 117 pitches total, a new season-high.

Tanner Roark’s Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 Ks, 117 P, 74 S, 6/5 GO/FO.

Stripling vs Nationals: In 14 appearances (and three starts) before today, Dodgers’ righty Ross Stripling had a 2.20 ERA, nine walks, 31 Ks, and a .268/.322/.375 line against in 28 23 innings pitched.

He went 5 13 against Cincinnati in his third start of the season, striking out seven of the 22 batters he faced without giving up a walk in what ended up being a 5-3 loss to the Reds in which he received no decision.

Stripling retired the first six batters he faced this afternoon, as the Dodgers jumped out to a 1-0 lead, but Wilmer Difo and Spencer Kieboom singled in back-to-back at bats in the home-half of the third, and Bryce Harper hit a two-out RBI single to center on a first-pitch fastball, bringing Difo in to tie things up at 1-1.

After retiring six of seven to get through the fifth, as the Dodgers jumped out to a 3-1 lead, Stripling came back out for the sixth, and retired the Nationals in order, picking up his 7th, 8th, and 9th Ks in a 14-pitch frame.

Ross Stripling’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 Ks, 96 P, 66 S, 6/1 GO/FO.

Harpo/Hondo?: Bryce Harper hasn’t exactly been tearing it up at the plate in the month of May (though the power is there). He took the field this afternoon 11 for 53 (.208/.250/.547) so far this month, with three doubles, five home runs, three walks, and eight Ks in 56 PAs, and struck out on a big 1-2 curve from Ross Stripling the first time up.

More than the K though, it was his glasses that got the attention after his first at bat.

Were they a tribute to the great Frank Howard? We think they might have been (and it totally means Harper loves D.C. and its baseball history, and is going to sign on long-term, right?):

In his second trip to the plate vs Stripling, there were runners on first and third with two out in the third, and Harper jumped on a first-pitch fastball and singled to center to drive in one run and tie it up early in the first game of today’s doubleheader, 1-1.

BULLPEN ACTION: JT Chargois (pronounced: \SHA-gwah\) gave up a leadoff single to left by Howie Kendrick, who was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double, and an infield single by Michael A. Taylor, who stole second with two out, but was stranded there.

Trevor Gott gave up a single by Justin Turner, and a walk to Grandal, putting two on with no one out in the Dodgers’ half of the eighth, and one out later, a sac fly to left field by Max Muncy made it 4-1 Dodgers, and to make things worse, Howie Kendrick suffered an injury to his right leg/ankle/calf/achilles(?) on the play and had to be carted off the field. No bueno.

Josh Fields tossed a scoreless bottom of the eighth for LA, andCarlos Torres threw a quick, scoreless top of the ninth, then Kenley Jansen came on for the save and locked it down.

Ballgame.

Final Score: 4-1 Dodgers

Nationals now 24-19