Washington's a Tough Place to do Business

The Dodgers found out just what every new representative finds out quickly, that Washington is a difficult place to get something done. The Nationals held the lusty Los Angeles offense to five hits and a single run while Adam Dunn drive two of Charlie Haeger's knuckle balls out of the park for a 5-1 win.

It might have been the absence of Manny Ramirez. It might have been the late flight to Washington arrived late. Or it might have been the law of averages catching up to them. However you perceive it, the Dodgers were unable to handle a rookie pitcher for the second game in a row.

Bespectacled Luis Atilano made his first Major League start a memorable one, holding the Dodgers to five hits over six innings, getting 10 ground ball outs and allowing only one tainted run.

In an oddity, Tyler Clippard, the reliever who followed, him also wore glasses but struck out four in his two innings while allowing only one base runner and that on an error.

Starter Charlie Haeger had a tough first inning. Nyjer Morgan lined a ball into left-center field that went for a triple, then scored on a single to give the Nats a 1-0 lead.

Held to one hit over the first three innings, James Loney's lined double into the left-field corner with one out in the fourth. Ronnie Belliard, working third base to give Casey Blake a day off, looped a fly ball to center that Morgan lost in the lights, then threw wildly over the shortstop's head and L.A. had runners at second and third.

Blake DeWitt was walked intentionally to load the sacks and A.J. Ellis' ground ball allowed Belliard to cross the plate. Ellis was behind the plate to handle Haeger's knuckler.

The tie lasted about a minute and a half. Adam Dunn caught one of Haeger's 73 mph floaters and banged it off the front of the upper deck to put Washington in front for good.

Belliard singled and DeWitt doubled in the top of the sixth, hits that turned out to be the last the Dodgers would manage, and Dunn struck again in the sixth, hitting the ball just far enough to reach the front row of the stands and the two runs put Washington in front 4-1.

Haeger walked the next man and Ramon Ortiz came out of the bullpen to throw a double play ball on the first pitch to end the inning.

But in the eighth, he walked the first three Nats before getting the first out on a foul pop to third. Then came perhaps the most remarkable double play the Dodgers will participate in this season. Not the most important, the most unique.

Willie Harris came to bat with the bases loaded and ran the count to 3-0. Inixplicably he swung on the next pitch and grounded sharply to Loney at first and his throw to the plate was in plenty of time to force the runner.

Then for reasons yet unknown, Harris strolled away toward the Washington dugout. Everyone was yelling for him to get back on first base but Ellis threw the ball to Loney and he stepped on the bag to compete the twin-killing.

The umpire at first base cited the "abandoning the base" rule in calling Harris out and the double play went 3-2-3.

The play didn't change things and Los Angeles was retired in the ninth inning on a double play after Blake, pinch-hitting, was hit by a pitch.

The top five batters in Los Angeles the lineup, Rafael Furcal, Garret Anderson, Andre Ethier (who singled), Matt Kemp (whose 11 game hitting streak ended) and Loney (who doubled) were a combined 2-for-20.

Washington improved to 9-8 while Los Angeles slid to 7-9.

The second and third games of the three-game series will be in the afternoon. Today (Saturday) LHP Clayton Kershaw (1-0, 3.18) will be opposed by RHP Craig Stammen (0-3, 20.50) and Sunday, Chad Billingsley (1-0, 7.07) matches up with LHP Scott Olsen (0-1, 11.74).

Beginning Monday, the Dodgers and Mets face off for three games in New York. Rain is in the forecast today and Sunday, as well as on Monday.

Dodger Blue Notes-- On this date in 1958, Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese played in his 2,000 game and first baseman Gil Hodges belted his 300th career home run. Reese homered in the game as well, but the Dodgers lost to the Cubs in front of 24,368 fans at the L.A. Coliseum. ...Firestone, the official sponsor of the 2010 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program, has teamed up with MLB for the Firestone/MLB All-Star Sweepstakes. Each in-stadium ballot includes a sweepstakes entry form to be completed by fans along with their votes for the All-Star Game starters. At the completion of the balloting period, one lucky fan will be randomly selected to win a new set of Firestone tires, as well as an all expenses paid trip to Anaheim to throw a Ceremonial First Pitch before the All-Star Game. The last Dodger to be voted as a starter in the All-Star Game was Russell Martin in 2007.

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