Fielding Woes Lead to Sixth Straight Loss

For some time Washington has been a thorn in the side of many people but their baseball team was rather benign, particularly this season, but when Los Angeles arrived in town they transformed themselves from the worst team in baseball to the Dodgers worst nightmare. Washington won 5-4, and leads 0-2 in a series that everyone thought might make Joe Torre's club well again.

Let's get the ugly accouinting over with quickly.

The Dodgers out-hit Washington 12-9, out-homered Washington 3-1, lost their sixth straight, lost their eighth straight road game, lost their ninth game in the last 11 but were temporarily saved when Arizona lost their fourth straight, their fifth in six games and slip below .500.

They were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, running their record over he last four games to 4-for-50 (.080) and the Dodgers' top three hitters -- Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Jeff Kent -- have combined to go 1-for-24.

Now that's not funny, no matter who you are, as Larry the Cable Guy might say.

The Washington Times reported that when Maddux threw his first pitch, he became the first 350-game winner to pitch in Washington since Walter Johnson's final appearance of his career on Sept. 22, 1927.

Only one other 350-game winner (actually a 500 game winner) has ever pitched here was Cy Young, who last pitched here on July 29, 1911.

However, the Nationals were not impressed, topping the Dodgers' newest Hall of Famer-to be with the help of a pair of blunders on defense.

In his second start for Los Angeles, Maddux to 6-11 overall and 0-2 with the Dodgers, allowed four runs, two earned, on eight hits in 5.1 innings. In the third inning, a rare defensive mistake by Maddux led to a pair of runs.

L.A. got on the board first when James Loney (#11) and Casey Blake (#5) smacked home runs. Washington got a run back in the second and then in the third they took the lead for good when the Dodgers missed an inning-ending double play.

With runners on first and third, one out, Maddux fielded a comebacker and threw to second in an attempt to start a double play. However, the throw sailed to second baseman Jeff Kent backing up the play instead of shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.

His hurried throw to first was too late and the tying run scored before an RBI single gave Washington a 3-2 lead.

Washington added a run in the fourth, when a Washington baserunner scored from second on a two-out error by Kent.

The two misplays cost three runs, although only one of them was officially unearned.

The Dodgers' third solo home run of the game, this one by Andre Ethier, closed the gap to 4-3 in the fifth.

Maddux left in the sixth when he issued a base on balls with one out. Ramon Troncoso took over and ended the inning by starting a double play.

Chan Ho Park allowed a killing home run in the seventh that turned out to be one run too far for the Dodgers to overcome.

But they had a shot at it.

Trailing by two entering the eighth inning, singles by Many Ramirez and Loney started things off and after Russell Martin struck out and Garciaparra popped up, Blake dumped a single into short left to score Ramirez.

Pinch hitter Mike Sweeney walked to load the bases and like has occurred so often during the season, the Dodgers needed just one clutch hit to win the game.

For the second straight night, Washington brought in closer Joel Hanrahan and the former Dodgers' minor leaguer followed the lead of two other former Dodgers, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth of Philadelphia by also coming back to haunt his old club.

Kemp ran his record in Washington to 0-for-10 when he popped up on Hanrahan's second pitch to end the threat.

Ethier, who was 3-for-4, bounced to short and Kent struck out to open the ninth before Ramirez drilled a single up the middle to provide a spark of hope.

He jogged to first base and when the Washington center fielder let the ball roll through his legs, Ramirez was not in a position to advance to second.

Loney, who was also 3-for-4, slugged a long fly into right-center that stayed in the air long enough for the Washington fielder to run down.

The Dodgers are on the cusp of being swept by the worst team in Major League baseball and will send Clayton Kershaw up against the Washington juggernaught (sarcasm intended) in an attempt to stop the slide, counting on Isaiah who wrote "... and a little child shall lead them."

?Kershaw (2-4, 4.11 ERA) had trouble with Philadelphia after five straight quality start, allowing six runs on seven hits in four-plus innings. Kershaw entered the game with a 1.45 ERA in his five previous starts, beginning with his first career Major League win July 27 against the Nationals, when he threw six shutout innings.

Washington will counter with LHP John Lannan (7-12, 3.95 ERA) who allowed five runs in 6.1 innings against the Cubs last Friday.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	020 010 010-4
Washingnton	012 100 10x-5

   Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Kemp cf	        5  0  0  0  .292
Ethier rf	5  1  3  1  .277
Kent 2b	        5  0  0  0  .279
Ramirez lf	5  1  2  0  .380
Loney 1b	5  1  3  1  .300
Martin c	4  0  1  0  .287
Garciaparra ss	4  0  1  0  .235
Blake 3b	3  1  2  2  .266
Maddux p	2  0  0  0  .000
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Pierre ph	0  0  0  0  .277
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .111
 Sweeney ph	0  0  0  0  .143
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	38 4 12 4
  Washington	32 5  9 4

 Errors- Maddux (1), Kent (11). 2b hits-Ethier
2 (26), Loney (33). HR- Loney (11), Blake (5),
Ethier (17). RBI- Loney (72), Blake 2 (14), 
Ethier (57). CS- Kemp (9). LOB- Los Angeles
10, Washington 6. DP- Garciaparra, Kent and
Loney; Troncoso, Garciaparra and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Maddux (0-2)	5.1  8  4-2  1  0  7.36
Troncoso	0.2  0  0-0  0  0  3.90
Park	        1.0  1  1-1  0  1  2.74
Broxton	        1.0  0  0-0  0  3  3.65
 HBP- by Maddux. T- 2:57. Att- 22,907.
Jeff, You Were Right
When Manny Ramirez appeared on the the Dodgers' doorstep he was quickly inserted in the fourth spot in the batting order and Jeff Kent was slotted just before him. Kent was in the middle of a hot streak that started in mid-July and had boosted his average from .248 to .261.

With Manny behind him, Kent batted .481 (25 for 52) over a two-week period, boosting his average to .285, and some members of the media were nodding their heads and confidently reporting that with Ramirez behind him, Kent was a much better hitter.

Kent, in his usual no-baloney manner, said Ramirez had nothing to do with it, and when Vin Scully echoed the theory, Kent only growled, "Sometimes Scully talks too much."

But Kent's hot streak has started to dissipate and during the current road trip from hell, he has managed a 5-for-27 (.185) average. Manny's still batting behind him but it hasn't helped.

Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News was right on target when he wrote, "With a division title still very much within reach, the Dodgers need him to be as close to vintage as he can possibly muster at age 40. No matter who is hitting behind him."

Dodger Blue Notes-- Cory Wade will come off the disabled list in a day or so. ...The Dodgers had won 11 of 12 against the Nationals before losing the first two games of this series. ... Andre Ethier's 3-for-5 game snapped his 5-for-31 skid. ... Greg Maddux dropped to 0-7 with a 4.39 ERA against the National League East after Wednesday's loss. The Dodgers' NL East schedule concludes with Thursday's series finale.

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