Nationals Stop Dodgers 3-1 on Two Home Runs

The maddening win one, lose one two-step continued in Washington as the Dodgers wasted a strong pitching performance by D.L. Houlton and lost 3-1 on a pair of National home runs. Preston Wilson smacked a two-run shot in the fourth inning to erase a 1-0 lead that came from a Milton Bradley homer in the third. Nick Johnson banged an eighth inning homer of Giovanni Carrara to give Washington a little breathing room. The Dodgers lost for the sixth time in eight games.

On another hot and steamy night in the nation's capital, two light hitting teams reversed the results of the first game of the series when the Dodgers homered four times in a 5-4 win.

Houlton (4-5) went six innings, allowing two runs and five hits, striking out three. Dioner Navarro allowed his second stolen base in the first inning and again threw the ball into center field, allowing the runner to reach third. Houlton gout out of the inning without the run scoring.

Despite collecting six hits, the Dodgers left eight on base and were again lacking an important two-out hit.

Jason Phillips singled and Dioner Navarro walked with one out in the second but Jason Repko and Houlton couldn't move them.

In the third Cesar Izturis singled but was caught stealing before Bradley's home run (#11) and in the fourth, Jose Valentin walked and Phillips was hit on the left hand by a pitch. He left the game and was replaced by Olmedo Saenz. Navarro, Repko and Houlton again went quietly.

Wilson gave Washington a 2-1 lead with two out in the fourth and the Dodger offense almost ground to a complete halt the final six innings. After Valentin and Phillips reached with none out in the third, the Dodgers could manage only two singles and a walk over the next 21 batters.

The team's last gasp came in the eighth when Oscar Robles, deep in a 3-for-40 slump, led off the inning with a single. Bradley, attempting to bunt, popped the ball up foul for the first out, then Jeff Kent and Valentin made outs.

The Dodgers slipped to 11 games under .500 at 49-59 and unless someone steps up to spark the offense, it makes little difference how many games are left in the season. (Actually there are 54).

Dodger Blue Notes-- After considering retirement and the disabled list Monday, pitcher Wilson Alvarez informed the Dodgers on that he will rejoin the club in time for Thursday night's game against the Nationals. Dodger physical therapist Pat Screnar is satisfied the left-hander is healthy. …Veteran right-hander Scott Erickson, designated for assignment on July 29, cleared outright waivers and accepted an assignment to Las Vegas. Erickson is tentatively scheduled to start for the 51s on Thursday night in Omaha. …Brad Penny will pitching the series finale Thursday. He is 11-4 with a 2.24 ERA lifetime against Washington, nee Montreal.