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Washington Nationals drop third straight overall with 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers

Matt Grace did fine as the opener, but Joe Ross struggled when he came into the game, and the Dodgers ran away with this one, taking a second straight in D.C., 9-3.

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

The whole opener thing worked, sort of, with Matt Grace retiring all six batters he faced in two innings on the mound, but Joe Ross gave up a home run to the first batter he faced in the third inning, and by the time he was done, the Los Angeles Dodgers had scored seven runs (six earned) on him, putting the Washington Nationals behind 9-2 after seven in what ended up a 9-3 win for LA in D.C.

Ross Grace vs the Dodgers: Talking to reporters after last night’s loss, Nats’ manager Davey Martinez said that it was going to be Joe Ross starting in this afternoon’s matchup with the Dodgers.

“Yeah, Joe will start tomorrow,” he acknowledged when a reporter asked for confirmation of the talk around the nation’s capital.

When this afternoon’s lineup was released, however, Matt Grace was listed as the Nationals’ starter/opener. It’s not the first time that Grace has started (he was an “opener” in 2017 in a game against the San Diego Padres in Petco Park under former manager Dusty Baker but that apparently doesn’t count because there’s some sort of a pre-planned vs late emergency decision sort of distinction at play here) and a left-hander against LA’s club (.254/.333/.436 vs LHPs; .266/.348/.484 vs RHP so far this season) did make some sense...

Grace needed just 11 pitches to get through a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 opening frame, and he made it six-straight with a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 second before he was done for the day...

Matt Grace’s Line: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 26 P, 16 S, 1/2 GO/FO.

Kershaw in D.C.: In three starts this month, before today’s outing in the nation’s capital, LA’s ace, Clayton Kershaw, had a 0.95 ERA, four walks, 26 Ks, and a .162/.219/.235 line against in 19 innings, leaving the 31-year-old, 12-year veteran with a 2.84 ERA, a 3.46 FIP, 19 walks, 108 Ks, and a .228/.263/.378 line against in 111 IP on the season.

Trea Turner singled to right to start the day against the left-hander, and scored from second on a triple to the right field corner by Adam Eaton in the next at bat, 1-0. Eaton scored from third on a sac fly by Juan Soto and the Nationals were up 2-0 after one in the second game of the series in D.C.

The Dodgers scored a run in the third and three in the fourth, giving Kershaw a 4-2 lead to work with, and they added another in the top of the sixth as Kershaw piled up scoreless frames, holding it the Nats to two through six, and his teammates piled on runs with four more in the top of the seventh as they built up a seven-run lead, 9-2.

Clayton Kershaw’s Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 Ks, 94 P, 67 S, 3/3 GO/FO.

vs Lefties: The Nationals, as a team, started the day with a .282/.355/.480 line against left-handed pitchers this season, good for 2nd/1st/2nd across the line among National League teams, with the Nats noting that their line vs lefties would be the franchise’s best vs. left-handed pitching in team history (2005-pres.) if the season ended today (or if they keep it up for the remainder of the season).

BULLPEN ACTION: Joe Ross took over with a 2-0 lead in the top of the third, and promptly surrendered a home run on a 1-1 fastball to Will Smith that the Dodger catcher hit out to right field to make it a 2-1 game. Joc Pederson singled in the next at bat, took second on a sac bunt by Clayton Kershaw, and third on a groundout by Alex Verdugo before he was left there at the end of a 17-pitch frame by Ross.

Ross walked Cody Bellinger with one out in the fourth, and Bellinger took second on a wild pitch before scoring on an RBI single by Max Muncy, who scored from first on a double off of Corey Seager’s bat, 3-2 LA. Seager took third on the play when Adam Eaton bobbled the ball on the track, and scored on a sac fly by Will Smith, 4-2 LA.

Back-to-back-to-back, two-out hits, with the third on an RBI single by Will Smith, made it a 5-2 game in the Dodgers’ favor in the sixth, and they added four in the seventh inning, for seven total, six earned, off Ross, who was replaced after giving up a one-out double and a single that drove in a run, 6-2.

Javy Guerra walked two batters to load the bases, and gave up a three-run double by Will Smith, 9-2.

Yan Gomes homered off Dodgers’ righty Joe Kelly in the first at bat of the Nats’ seventh, 9-3. No. 5 of 2019 for the Nationals’ catcher.

Guerra came back out in the eighth and threw a scoreless, 1-2-3 inning.

Dodgers’ lefty Caleb Ferguson got the bottom of the eighth and worked around a leadoff walk to Anthony Rendon to keep it a 9-3 lead.

Guerra returned in the ninth as well, and retired the Dodgers in order.

Ferguson gave up a leadoff single by Gerardo Parra in the bottom of the ninth before the Dodgers went to the pen for JT Chargois, who got a double play out of Yan Gomes and a strikeout from Adrían Sanchez to end the game. 9-3 Dodgers final.

Nationals now 55-49