Yan Gomes hit a three-run home run off Los Angeles Dodgers’ starter Clayton Kershaw in the fourth, tying things up at 3-3, but a hit-by-pitch, a bobbled ball by Washington’s new shortstop, Alcides Escobar, and errant throw by Josh Harrison, set the visitors up with an RBI opportunity in the sixth they converted on a two-out roller toward third base that got the go-ahead run in, in what ended up a 5-3 win for LA in D.C.
Espino vs LA: Though he’s been limited in terms of how deep he can go into his starts since he’s spent a lot of time in the bullpen this season, after five scoreless in his latest outing in a starting role, Paolo Espino, 34, had a 1.26 ERA and a .250/.264/.404 line against in 14 1⁄3 IP in his three outings as a starter this season. Espino credited his success in both roles with the team to the time he spent doing a little bit of everything in the minors.
“I think it’s due to the fact that I’m very prepared for all situations,” Espino said, “because I’ve had a very long career in the minor leagues, being there a long time really gave me a chance to try out so many roles in so many situations.
“So what I do is I come in every single day preparing as if I’m going to be asked to pitch that day, whenever I’m told that I may possibly start.”
Getting another opportunity in the rotation today, Espino tossed three scoreless to start, on 40 pitches, retiring nine-straight after a leadoff single in the first, but he walked two batters around a single in the first three plate appearances in the fourth, then gave up back-to-back sac flies, 2-0, on fly balls by Will Smith and Albert Pujols, before Gavin Lux hit a two-out, RBI liner to right-center for a double that made it a 3-0 game in the #Dodgers’ favor after 3 1⁄2 in D.C.
An extended rain delay in the top of the fifth ended Espino’s outing...
Paolo Espino’s Line: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 70 P, 41 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
Kershaw vs D.C.: Last time out before tonight’s start, Dodgers’ lefty Clayton Kershaw piled up a season-high 13 strikeouts from 28 batters faced in eight strong innings against the Chicago Cubs in which he gave up four hits, one walk, and one earned run, leaving the 14-year veteran with a 3.25 ERA, a 2.88 FIP, 18 walks, 124 Ks, and a .214/.255/.358 line against over 17 starts and 102 1⁄3 IP.
“It’s hard to imagine him being any better,” Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts said of Kershaw vs the Cubs, as quoted on MLB.com.
“He was just in complete control. You just saw it from pitch one.”
Kershaw tossed three scoreless on 32 pitches to start, giving up just one hit, and he came back out for the bottom of the fourth with a 3-0 lead and gave up a one-out walk to Juan Soto, a single by Starlin Castro, and a three-run home run to left on a 2-2 slider that didn’t get inside to Yan Gomes, who hit his eighth home run of the season and tied things up at 3-3.
That was it for Kershaw, with the rain delay ending his outing...
Clayton Kershaw’s Line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 54 P, 34 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Still raining here at Nats Park.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 4, 2021
More info as soon as we have it. pic.twitter.com/MWVk62SAuT
Yan Gone: Yan Gomes hit .154 in 31 plate appearances with runners in scoring position in 2020’s 60-game campaign, but he came into tonight’s game with a .318 AVG (.400 OBP; .455 SLG) in 50 PAs with RISP on the season, and he added another hit when he homered off of Clayton Kershaw in the bottom of the fourth inning tonight, hitting a 2-2 slider out with two runners on.
Bullpen Action: After a 1-hour, 45-minute rain delay, Ryne Harper took over on the mound for the Nationals and got the second and third outs of the Dodgers’ fifth.
Righty Brusdar Graterol came on for LA in the bottom of the fifth inning and retired the side in order in a nine-pitch frame (with seven triple-digit offerings, including this one, which is a cruel one, to Jon Lester):
Jon Lester pinch hitting vs. Brusdar Graterol.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 4, 2021
Come on, man. pic.twitter.com/ePKHHGKw0L
Wander Suero hit Will Smith with one out in the Dodgers’ sixth, but a hard-hit grounder to short off Albert Pujols’s bat ate up Alcides Escobar, so his toss to second was late, and an errant throw to first by Josh Harrison put runners on the corners.
Suero struck out Gavin Lux for out No. 2, but an AJ Pollock roller toward third in the next at bat was just slow enough to allow Pollock to reach first ahead of Starlin Castro’s throw, and Smith scored from third to put the Dodgers back on top, 4-3 after 5 1/2.
Joe Kelly took over for the Dodgers in the bottom of the sixth, and promptly surrendered a single to right by Josh Harrison, who was forced out at second on a Juan Soto grounder in the next at bat, but Soto moved to second base on a two-out walk to Starlin Castro, and a HBP on Yan Gomes loaded the bases in front of Gerardo Parra, who K’d swinging to end the threat. Still 4-3 Dodgers.
Sam Clay took over for Suero with one down in the top of the seventh, and got the next two outs to keep it a one-run game.
Phil Bickford tossed a scoreless bottom of the seventh, still 4-3 LA.
Austin Voth retired the Dodgers in order in a 13-pitch top of the eighth.
Blake Treinen was dealing in a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth, which ended with Gavin Lux making a slick play on a one-hop grounder off Ryan Zimmerman’s bat.
Kyle McGowin walked Gavin Lux to start the Dodgers’ ninth, and he scored on a one-out single to left by Chris Taylor, 5-3.
Kyle Lobstein took over for McGowin with two out, and got the final out.
Kenley Jansen gave up a leadoff single by Starlin Castro in the bottom of the ninth, and he walked Yan Gomes to put two on with no one out, but Gerardo Parra chased a 96 MPH, 1-2 sinker way out of the zone for out No. 1. Alcides Escobar stepped in next and fell behind, 0-2, quickly, and K’d swinging on three pitches for out No. 2.
Josh Bell got a 2-out, 2-out at bat, pinch hitting for Victor Robles, and but he fell behind 0-2 as well, and lined out to short to end it.
Final Score: 5-3 Dodgers
Nationals now 40-41