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Washington Nationals drop series opener in Los Angeles, 1-0 Dodgers final...

Joe Ross and Walker Buehler were lights out and a solo HR in the sixth was enough for the home team in the opener in LA.

Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Joe Ross tossed five scoreless on 67 pitches in his 2021 debut. Walker Buehler went six on a total of 90 pitches, holding the visiting Washington Nationals off the board, and the Dodger starter got support from Justin Turner, who homered off Luis Avilán with two out in the sixth to give the home team a lead in the series opener in Los Angeles which held up, 1-0 final.

Ross Returns: Joe Ross pitched in Spring Training 1.0 last season, but he opted out of the 60-game COVID campaign over health concerns, so before taking the mound today, the last time he took the mound in an official ballgame was Game 5 of 2019 World Series. So, yeah, it had been a while.

“Honestly,” Ross told reporters when he spoke about the long (530-day) span this spring, “I would say it feels like it was like two — you could even say maybe like three years ago. It feels like a long time. I mean, Spring Training games are one thing, but the last like real game was in the World Series.

“Which, even thinking back feels like a long time ago.”

“It’s felt like a while, but I felt good today and it feels good to kind of be back pitching.”

Ross returned to the mound for his first regular season start since September 29, 2019 in this afternoon’s series opener in LA, and the 27-year-old right-hander was sharp, throwing five scoreless innings on just 67 pitches, and giving up just two hits and two walks in an impressive outing against the Dodgers in which he struck out four and induced five ground ball outs.

Ross gave up a one-out single by Justin Turner in the home-half of the first, then proceeded to retire six straight before the first of his two walks with two down in the third, but he left a runner on that inning, worked around a leadoff single in the fourth, and a two-out free pass in the fifth, before he was done for the day...

Joe Ross’s Line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 67 P, 40 S, 5/3 GO/FO.

Buehler, Buehler? First To Ever Make That Joke!: Walker Buehler started the Dodgers’ home opener (0-1) with a 3.38 ERA in 13 13 innings in three career games (two starts) opposite the Nationals with 15 strikeouts and five walks in those outings, one of which took place in LA in May of 2019, when he tossed seven scoreless against the eventual ‘19 World Series champs.

Buehler’s second start of the 2021 campaign began with seven straight outs before catcher Jonathan Lucroy beat out a grounder to short for the Nationals’ first hit, but the right-hander held the Nationals off the board through six, working around back-to-back, two-out knocks in the fifth and sixth innings, and throwing 90 pitches total to that point. That was it for the Dodgers’ starter.

Walker Buehler’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 ks, 90 P, 55 S, 6/5 GO/FO.

Counts on Toes After Fingers: Before tonight’s game, the Nationals made a bunch of roster moves, reinstating catchers Alex Avila and Yan Gomes, lefty reliever Brad Hand, and veteran infielder Jordy Mercer from the Injured List.

They also optioned catcher Tres Barrera and reliever Ryne Harper, then added them to the Taxi Squad, along with outfielder Gerardo Parra, infielder Adrián Sanchez, and left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland, who will be with the team in LA and St. Louis, barring any changes.

Davey Martinez talked about getting some of his expected everyday regulars back, and the job the so-called “Replacements” did over the first three games of the series, after nine of the Nationals’ players ended up on the IL as part of the COVID crisis in the clubhouse in D.C.

“I said this all along,” Martinez said of the contributions from the last-minute additions to the club’s Opening Day roster, “... it takes more than 26 guys to win a championship. We know that. I’ll keep praising the guys that stepped up right now for us, I mean, these guys have done well for us. We had three games with the Braves. I thought we played well all three games. We were in every game. So, you know, but getting these guys back with the roster that we set leaving Spring Training will feel nice when these guys are able to get back in there.”

Bullpen Action: Luis Avilán took over for Joe Ross in the bottom of the sixth and picked up back-to-back Ks for the first two outs of the frame, before Justin Turner hit a 1-0 changeup out to left field for a solo home run and a 1-0 Dodgers’ lead. Turner’s 2nd of 2021.

Dodgers’ lefty Victor González struck out two in a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the seventh.

Wander Suero worked around a two-out double by AJ Pollock in an 11-pitch bottom of the seventh.

González returned to the mound in the top of the eighth, only to be replaced by old friend Blake Treinen when a pinch hitter, Yan Gomes, was announced by the Nationals. So Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez countered with Yadiel Hernández, who doubled to right field on a 1-0 cutter from Treinen. Victor Robles bunted Hernández over, and reached first base on the play, but he got thrown out trying to steal second in the next at bat.

Trea Turner stepped in next with a runner on third and one down, and went down swinging, so the Dodgers walked Juan Soto intentionally, and Treinen got a force at second on a Ryan Zimmerman grounder for out No. 3.

Sam Clay got the bottom of the eighth for the Nationals, and retired the side in order on eight pitches.

Corey Knebel took over for LA in the ninth and struck out the side for the save.

Final Score: 1-0 Dodgers

Nationals now 1-3