Dodgers Break 106-year Dry Spell Against Nats

Los Angeles shook a batting slump to come from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Washington Nationals 4-2. The victory was the first against Washington since "Roaring Bill" (Brickyard) Kennedy finished them off 5-1 on October 5, 1899. Of course, 2005 is the first time the new-improved model Nationals have competed in the National League in 116+ years.

The victory, in front of 41,190 at Dodger Stadium, was tempered by the loss of third baseman Jose Valentin, who injured his knee in a slide at home plate in the fifth inning and left the game.

Since starting the season 12-2 with a major-league high 91 runs scored (6.7 per game), the Dodgers have been in the midst of a hitting drought.

They have scored 23 runs in the first seven games of this homestand -- just over 3 runs per game -- and been held to two runs or fewer in six of their past 11 games. The Dodgers were batting .179 (7 for 39) with runners in scoring position during this homestand - a dramatic drop from their .296 mark in those situations through the first 18 games of the season.

Valentin, who broke out of an 0-for-27 and 1-for-35 slump with a critical RBI single in the fifth inning. He left after six innings and was replaced by Norihiro Nakamura in the seventh. Valentin will undergo an MRI exam and be reevaluated today.

If he has to be placed on the disabled list, the Dodgers likely will call Antonio Perez back from his minor-league rehabilitation assignment early because his injured left hamstring appears to be sound.

As for the game, the Dodgers worked Nationals pitcher Zach Day's pitch count up to the point where he had given up only two runs but had thrown 88 pitches with two out in the bottom of the fourth inning.

With one out, Ricky Ledee slammed a double off the center-field wall, and Valentin followed that with an RBI single, taking second on the throw to the plate.

Then with two out, Jeff Weaver, the winner of the "Old Slugger" award as the best-hitting pitcher in 2004, beat out an infield hit and Cesar Izturis walked before a game-tying single by the blazing Hee-Seop Choi.

The Dodgers picked up two more runs in the fifth on a two-out double just inside the third base bag by Jason Phillips, who saw his average dip to .111 after striking out in his first two at-bats. Los Angeles scored as many runs in two innings as they had scored in their previous 24.

Weaver (3-2) took over at that point, retiring six of seven over the next two innings before leaving after a leadoff walk in the seventh. Weaver rebounded from two consecutive shaky outings, giving up seven hits and two runs. He struck out seven, walked one and kept his career earned-run average in May at 3.24, more than a run lower than in any other month.

Duaner Sanchez allowed consecutive singles a Nats runner rounded second too far and got thrown out trying to scramble back. Manager Jim Tracy quickly called on lefty Kelly Wunsch, who got a strikeout and an easy fly ball to end the inning. Wunsch now has retired nine of the past 10 batters he has faced -- striking out five -- over his past seven appearances, slashing his ERA to 1.80.

Giovanni Carrara pitched a scoreless eighth. Yhency Brazoban pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 10 opportunities and the Dodgers (17-9) maintained their 1 1/2-game lead over Arizona in the National League West.

Dodger Blue NotesThe Dodgers optioned Carlyle to Las Vegas to make room for Wilson Alvarez on the roster. He will join the starting rotation and work on pitch selection. The right-hander fell into a pattern of getting ahead of hitters, only to throw hittable pitches late in the count. … Eric Gagne threw about 50 pitches during batting practice and is scheduled to complete another session Friday in Cincinnati. Barring setbacks, he will then start a rehabilitation assignment. … Antonio Perez, recovering from a strained left hamstring, played six innings of defense at third base Monday with Las Vegas and converted all four fielding chances. The injury to Jose Valentin could move Perez into the starting lineup immediately. Valentin and Norihiro Nakamura were hitting a combined .173 before the second game with Washington on Tuesday. Nakamura replaced him in the field.

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