Despite a four-run first inning, the Dodgers found themselves tied 4-4 when Derek Lowe gave up a pair of runs in each the first and second inning. He settled in at that point, throwing three scoreless innings before leaving for a pinch hitter in the fifth.
The bullpen held onto the lead and protected his eighth win of the season and his first since July 2.
Rafael Furcal banged a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning after Nick Johnson had put the National up 2-0 with a home run in the top of the inning.
Jason Repko followed Furcal's shot with a single and after Olmedo Saenz had walked, Ethier drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly. With two out, Russell lined a drive into the left-field seats, giving Los Angeles a 4-2 lead.
The margin didn't last long, Washington using a double and three singles to tie the game in the second.
Oddly enough, Lowe had struck out the side in both the first and second innings while allowing two runs in each of them.
He completed the next three innings, allowing only a couple harmless singles and the game moved into the bottom of the fifth inning.
J.D. Drew and Saenz walked before Ethier singled to lead the bases. Martin banged a shot into right-center that rolled to the wall with two runs scoring. Cesar Izturis was hit by a pitch to load the bases again.
With thoughts of multiple runs dancing in their heads, the Dodgers were deflated when Ramon Martinez hit into a double play and pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee flew to center.
Los Angeles managed only a lone single by Repko in the final three innings but Washington picked up a run in the sixth on a suddenly-wild Joe Beimel.
After striking out the first two Nats that faced him, he allowed a walk, a single and two more walks before Elmer Dessens was summoned to control the outbreak.
He retired straight batters, then handed the ball to another rookie, Jonathan Broxton, and his fastball was too much for Alfonso Soriano and Felipe Lopez to handle. Following a ground ball single, he fanned Johnson. It was Johnson's fourth strikeout since homering in the first.
Furcal, Repko and Martin had a pair of hits each as the Dodgers improved to 49-55, just one game better than this time in 2005. Arizona/s Ramon Ortiz (6-9, 4.73) opposes Mark Hendrickson (0-4, 4.97) in the series finale this afternoon.
Score by innings Nationals 220 001 000-5 Dodgers 400 030 00x-7 Dodgers ab r h bi ave Furcal SS 3 1 2 1 .278 Repko CF 4 1 2 0 .295 Drew RF 3 1 0 0 .276 Saenz 1B 1 2 0 0 .293 Loney 1B 0 0 0 0 .225 Ethier LF 3 1 1 1 .347 Martin C 3 1 2 4 .298 Izturis 3B 3 0 0 0 .243 Martinez 2B 4 0 1 0 .303 Lowe P 2 0 0 0 .071 Ledee PH 1 0 0 0 .271 Beimel P 0 0 0 0 .000 Dessens P 0 0 0 0 .000 Cruz Jr. PH 1 0 0 0 .230 Broxton P 0 0 0 0 .000 Totals 28 7 8 6 Nationals 37 5 10 5 2B- R Martin (18). HR- Furcal (6), Martin (5). SF- Ethier. RBI- Furcal (33), Ethier (39), Martin 4 (44). LOB- 5, Washington 7. SB- Repko (9). CS- Repko (2). Dodgers in r r-e bb so era Lowe (8-7) 5.0 7 4-4 1 8 4.29 Beimel 0.2 2 1-1 2 2 3.74 Dessens 2.1 0 0-0 0 0 0.00 Broxton (sv 1) 1.0 1 0 0-0 2 0 3.33 WP-Beimel. Hit by Pitch-Saenz, Izturis. Time- 2:58. Attendance- 41,540.Dodger Blue Notes-- If the Dodgers are to win 88 games -- the projected number needed to win the N.L. West -- they will have to go on a 40-19 tear over the final games. …Rumors that GM Ned Colletti is still attempting to nail down a starting pitcher for a stretch run and scouts from other clubs believe the Dodgers were have Oakland left-hander Barry Zito in their sights. Colletti also has a long history with Cubs veteran Greg Maddux and he along with Philadelphia's Jon Lieber are the other names being whispered. Manager Grady Little would not address where former Braves switch-hitting Wilson Betemit would play. If he moves into the third base slot, Cesar Izturis could be moved to second base until Jeff Kent comes off the disabled list -- roughly another two weeks. Betemit, he was not to arrive in Los Angeles from Atlanta until 7 p.m. and the club recalled first baseman James Loney to fill the open roster spot. Nomar Garciaparra is scheduled to return to the lineup Tuesday night for the opener of the trip in Cincinnati.