And Little Children Shall Lead Them

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Unusual things have happened in Washington, or Foggy Bottom, as many term it, for over 200 years. Tuesday night's game added to the list as the Dodgers tied their season high with four home runs and some youngsters and a couple veterans teamed to give the Dodgers a tight, 5-4 win on the first game of a six-game road trip.

Newcomer's Jason Repko, Steve Schmoll and Jon Broxton, barely of voting age and Hee-Seop Choi, who can't vote at all, contributed to the victory, while the heart and soul of the club, Jeff Kent, became the first second baseman to hit 20 home runs or more in nine consecutive seasons when he homered in the second inning against the Nationals' newly-acquired Esteban Loaiza. Kent has hit 30 homers or more three times.

Jason Phillips, Jason Repko and pinch-hitter Hee-Seop Choi also connected, the first time this season a visiting club has hit more than two homers at Washington this season.

A total of 52 home runs had been hit in 50 games at RFK Stadium this season, which hadn't been used for regular-season major league baseball since the Senators left after the 1971 season.

The Nationals are having even more trouble scoring than the Dodgers, ranking last in the big leagues with 73 homers. In their last 15 games -- of which they've lost 12 -- never haven't scored more than four runs.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, had lost two straight and four of five to fall 11 games under .500.

Jeff Weaver (9-8) threw 93 pitches, 61 for strikes and left after facing one batter in the seventh inning. He allowed two runs -- both on Brad Wilkerson's triple in the third that put the Dodgers behind 2-1 -- and six hits.

And 93 pitches was plenty in the stifling humidity on a 91-degree evening,

After Duaner Sanchez finished the seventh, Steve Schmoll ran into trouble in the eighth as the Nats came back to score twice and close the gap to 5-4.

He allowed a pair of singles and a walk, the second run scoring on a stolen base, the first allowed by rookie catcher Dioner Navarro, who also threw the ball into centerfield to allow the final run to score.

An even newer rookie, Jonathan Broxton, came to Schmoll's assistance and allowed a walk of his own to put the tying and leading runs on base. Washington sent veteran Carlos Baerga up to pinch hit.

Baerga, a 13-year major league veteran played his first big league game in 1990 when Broxton was only six years old, still too young to play Little League.

After a few fretful minutes, Broxton got him to bounce to Kent at second to end the inning.

Manager Jim Tracy said, "We grew up a little tonight."

Yhency Brazoban pitched the ninth for his 21st save, extending his club record for a rookie. He retired Jose Guillen to end the game after allowing a two out double.

Kent homered on the first pitch of the second inning for a brief 1-0 lead but Washington moved in front 2-1 in the third when Weaver hit a batter, allowed a single and a triple.

Repko hit his sixth of the season in the fifth to tie the game, and Phillips broke a 2-all tie in the seventh with his ninth homer, a two-run shot after Kent doubled.

Choi, who has become an accomplished pinch-hitter, made it 5-2 in the eighth with his 14th homer this season and the first of his career as a pinch-hitter. It came on reliever Hector Carrasco's second pitch of the night.

It was his first home run since June 14 in Kansas City and his first career pinch-hit home run. Choi has four hits in his past five pinch-hit at-bats and he principles hitting coach Tim Wallach has been drilling into him since Choi came to the Dodgers from Florida seems to be finally taking hold.

The Nationals scored on Vinny Castilla's sacrifice fly in the eighth off reliever Steve Schmoll. Then, with runners on the corners and Jonathan Broxton pitching with two outs, the Nationals pulled to 5-4 thanks to an unearned run. Preston Wilson stole second, and Dodgers catcher Dioner Navarro's throw sailed into center field for an error that allowed Guillen to trot home from third.

The Dodgers remained four games behind San Diego and one game behind Arizona.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta said Tuesday the strange case of veteran left-hander Wilson Alvarez, who stayed in Los Angeles when the team left for Washington, would hopefully be resolved soon. Alvarez will probably make another trip to the 15-day disabled list with the same shoulder injury that has plagued him all season. Alvarez, 35, told MLB.com earlier this week he will rehabilitate his shoulder and retire after the season, but he apparently begun to have second thoughts and may retire immediately. Alvarez approached manager Jim Tracy after Sunday's loss to St. Louis -- a game in which Alvarez retired just one of three batters, issued a walk and gave up a decisive, two-run homer to Jim Edmonds -- to tell him the recurrent soreness in his shoulder had returned. Speculation is that reliever Franquelis Osoria from Las Vegas would replace him if he does, indeed, retire, leaving the Dodgers without a lefty in the bullpen. Tracy said Wilson was going home to Bradenton, Florida and asked the veteran pitcher to think about it for a while before made a decision. …The talks with Jeff Weaver about a contract extension have come to a halt and it appears their will not be anything definite before the end of the season. Talks with Weaver's agent, Scott Boras, have been on for four weeks and there is some speculation that Boras may be asking more than the Dodgers are willing to spend. Weaver has a $9.35 million salary in this final season of a four-year, $22.1 million deal he brought with him from New York. The Dodgers aren't likely to give him anything close to his current salary in the first year of any new deal. …Antonio Perez, hitting .335 and with an on-base percentage that is a solid .398 plus a .371 average with runners in scoring position is a man without a position. He has had trouble in the field as an outfielder and a third baseman and a shortstop and even as a second baseman, which is his natural position. He is receiving one-on-one tutoring sessions with Dodgers outfield coach John Shelby in hopes that he can learn a new position but that is going slowly. Shelby pointed out that being able to work only a short time each day is not enough. "If this were spring training, we could work with him a lot in the mornings, and he could get a better feel for it. But as it is, we're taking 10 minutes a day, plus I tell him to shag balls during batting practice, which he does. But that's not enough' Shelby said. With a team starved for hitting of any kind, Perez's bat is desperately needed but the youngster must find a place in the defensive lineup he can play. Baseball Prospectus, an online hotbed of cutting-edge statistical analysis, calculates daily the odds of each major league team reaching the playoffs, They report the Dodgers have a 12.2% chance of winning the West. The Padres are the favorite to take the crown at 46.4%, and Arizona has a 38.3% shot. San Francisco has a 2.98% chance, and Colorado is at .02004%. …The Taiwanese National Team is currently training at Dodger Stadium through Aug. 7, and will hold a scrimmage on Wednesday. The 1997 national team, with future Dodger Chin-Feng Chen, also worked out at Dodger Stadium. There are two other Taiwanese players in the Dodgers farm system: Double-A pitcher Hong-Chi Kuo and Class A shortstop Chin-lung Hu. …Rookie D.J. Houlton makes his 10th start of the year and his first appearance against the Nationals tonight. Houlton allowed four runs in the first 1 1/3 innings of his most recent start, a loss to Cincinnati, then pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He has been scored upon in the first inning of his last seven starts.

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