Dodgers Strand Opportunities, Drop Opener Of Doubleheader To Nationals

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 19: Adrian Gonzalez #23 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after a called third strike in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Even with two days off, the Dodgers managed to look routine on Wednesday, but unfortunately for them routine means little to no offense. That was the case as the Dodgers dropped the first game of a doubleheader 3-1 to the Nationals.

For the moment, the Dodgers trail the Cardinals by two games for the second wild card spot in the National League. Both teams still have games left tonight.

The Nationals and Dodgers traded runs in the second and third innings, with the Dodgers grouping together three singles to tie the game at 1-1.

But they didn't do much else against Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed just three more hits and no more runs. He struck out four in his six innings.

Bryce Harper lined a triple to center field to lead off the fifth, then scored on a ground ball by Ryan Zimmerman for a 2-1 Nationals lead. Aaron Harang then walked Andy LaRoche and was quickly pulled by manager Don Mattingly. But after 92 pitches and nine baserunners in just 4 1/3 innings, it's hard to call that hook quick.

Shawn Tolleson relieved Harang and mitigated the damage, needing just four pitches to induce a double play grounder from Michael Morse to get out of the inning.

But Washington added an insurance run in the sixth, when Ian Desmond doubled to lead off the inning, advanced to third base on a single, then scored on a ground ball by pinch hitter Tyler Moore.

The Dodgers got leadoff doubles in the second (Adrian Gonzalez), fourth (Luis Cruz) and seventh (Nick Punto) innings, but stranded all three runners. With Punto on third base with one out in the seventh, Washington brought in southpaw Sean Burnett, who proceeded to strikeout lefties Andre Ethier and Gonzalez, with a walk to Matt Kemp sandwiched in between, to end the threat.

The Dodgers got the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, but Tyler Clippard retired Ethier and Kemp to end the game.

A.J. Ellis was hit by a pitch but also went 0-for-3, extending his slump to 20 consecutive at-bats without a hit.

Up Next

About 30 minutes after the end of the first game, these two teams will play Game 2. Josh Beckett gets the call for the Dodgers in the nightcap, looking for his second win as a Dodger. Beckett has 24 strikeouts and nine walks in 24 innings with Los Angeles. John Lannan gets the start for the Nationals, looking for his fourth win in as many starts.

Game 1 Particulars

Home Runs: none

WP - Jordan Zimmermann (11-8): 6 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

LP - Aaron Harang (9-10): 4 1/3 IP, 7 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Sv - Tyler Clippard (32): 1 IP, 1 hit

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