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Washington Nationals swept in 4-game series with Los Angeles Dodgers with 5-1 loss on the 4th of July

Joe Ross was sharp, but the Nationals’ offense provided just one run of support in a 5-1 loss, which was the 4th straight for the Nats...

Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Joe Ross reached double digits in Ks, with 11 from 28 batters faced in an impressive outing, but he gave up a leadoff double by Gavin Lux in the first at bat of the seventh, in a 1-1 tie, and an RBI single by Albert Pujols put the Los Angeles Dodgers up 2-1, before they added a third run later in the inning in a 5-1 win over the Washington Nationals. LA swept their four-game set in D.C. with the win. Up next for the Nats, four in San Diego starting at 10:10 PM ET tomorrow night...

Ross vs LA: Joe Ross gave up 11 runs, seven earned, in five starts and 32 13 IP in June (1.95 ERA), walking six, striking out 33, and holding opposing hitters to a .202/.252/.353 line. He gave up five of the seven earned runs in a rough start against the New York Mets, but got it together in the next two outings, tossing seven scoreless against the Miami Marlins and 6 13 strong against the Tampa Bay Rays (2 ER) last time out before today.

While Ross going deep in his last few outings has helped a beleaguered bullpen, he said it was helpful, but not a focus for him going into his starts.

“I try not to think too much about it going into the game or throughout the game, just try to focus on executing my pitches and kind of taking care of business,” Ross said.

Tonight in the nation’s capital, Ross took the mound against the Dodgers hoping to avoid having the Nationals lose a third straight and the right-hander Ross came out dealing and throwing some of the hardest sinkers of his career as he struck out the side in the first, on 13 pitches, then added two in the second, and another in the third for 6 Ks from 11 batters faced through three scoreless.

Given a 1-0 lead to work with in the bottom of the third, Ross came out and gave up a home run to left-center in the first at bat of the fourth, with Matt Beaty hitting a 95 MPH sinker up in the zone, away, into the seats, 1-1. Zach McKinstry and Gavin Lux hit back-to-back singles off the Nationals’ starter with two out, and Ross hit Austin Barnes in the side of the helmet to load the bases in front of Steven Souza, Jr., who K’d looking at a high fastball for out No. 3.

Ross retired the Dodgers in order in a 10-pitch fifth, which left him at 77 pitches overall, and he hit for himself in the first at bat of the bottom of the fifth, then came back out with an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the sixth, in which he picked up two more Ks for a season-high 10 from 24 batters in six strong. 88 pitches.

Gavin Lux doubled into the right-center gap to lead off the seventh with the sixth hit off of Ross today, and scored one out later on an Albert Pujols’ single to left, 2-1 Dodgers. Ross’s day ended with two out in the inning, and a runner on first base...

Joe Ross’s Line: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 11 Ks, 1 HR, 101 P, 70 S, 4/5 GO/FO.

Opener vs D.C.: Garrett Cleavinger got the nod for the Dodgers, after giving up two hits and an unearned run in two relief appearances earlier in the series in Nationals Park. In need of a starter for today’s game after Trevor Bauer was placed on administrative leave by MLB, Dave Roberts turned to his left-handed reliever as an opener.

Cleavinger, 27, took the mound with a 2.19 ERA, eight walks, 14 Ks, and a .277/.386/.404 line against in 14 games and 12 13 IP on the season, and worked around a double to center off of Starlin Castro’s bat, and a walk to Josh Bell, striking out Yadiel Hernández with back-to-back fastballs after falling behind 3-1 in the final at bat of a 19-pitch inning that ended his outing.

SotOBP: Juan Soto started this morning’s game in the midst of an almost-career-high, on-base streak, having reached base safely in 20 straight games, while posting a .386 OBP in that stretch, over which he had 22 hits and 10 walks. As the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes, it, “is the longest streak of his season, the longest by a Nationals player in 2021, and the second-longest streak of his career,” behind only a 21-game on-base streak in August-September 2020.

Soto extended it with a single in the bottom of the third, matching his previous career-long on-base streak by reaching base in his 21st straight game.

Bullpen Action: Phil Bickford took over in the second and retired the Nationals in order in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.

Bickford returned to the mound in the bottom of the third, but was out after he issued a one-out walk to Josh Harrison.

Victor González came out of the ‘pen to face Juan Soto, and promptly surrendered a single on a soft liner to center. Harrison took second on Soto’s hit, and scored from there on a hit to right field by Starlin Castro, whose opposite field, RBI single put the Nationals up 1-0, but Josh Bell grounded into an inning-ending DP in the next AB.

Joe Kelly was next out of the pen for LA, and worked around a one-out single by Alcides Escobar in a 19-pitch frame.

David Price came on in the bottom of the fifth inning, and had two batters reach, with one down, on a catcher’s interference call on a Josh Harrison swing and a walk by Juan Soto in the next at-bat, but a double play grounder off Starlin Castro’s bat ended a 16-pitch frame. Still a 1-1 game.

Josh Bell lined a single to center to lead off the Nationals’ sixth, but slid past the bag trying to stretch it into a double, and was tagged out. Alcides Escobar (2 for 3) doubled with two out in the inning, but was stranded when Victor Robles K’d looking for out No. 3 of Price’s second scoreless.

Brad Hand took over for Joe Ross with a runner on first and two out, and Max Muncy drove the runner in with a double to right-center field that made it 3-1 game in the Dodgers’ favor.

Blake Treinen worked around a leadoff single by Tres Barrera in an 11-pitch bottom of the seventh.

Hand came out for another inning of work in the eighth and retired the Dodgers in order.

Jimmy Nelson threw a quick, 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth, on 11 pitches.

Wander Suero gave up back-to-back singles to start the top of the ninth, then hit Justin Turner in the shoulder/helmet with a first pitch cutter. Mookie Betts stepped in with the bases loaded and popped out to second unproductively, but two runs scored on a Max Muncy fly to center that Gerardo Parra couldn’t catch up to, 5-1 Dodgers. That was it for Suero.

Andres Machado took over and hit AJ Pollock with a 94 MPH 1-1 fastball inside, loading the bases back up, but back-to-back Ks got him out of the inning.

Kenley Jansen got the bottom of the ninth and gave up a leadoff single by Alcides Escobar (3 for 4) before Ryan Zimmerman K’d swinging and Tres Barrera grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Final Score: 5-1 Dodgers

Nationals now 40-42