Matt Kemp and the Dodgers are running out of time.
The Dodgers put up a familiar offensive performance on Thursday, falling in their finale in Washington D.C. 4-1 to the Nationals. The loss moved the Dodgers three games behind the Cardinals for the second wild card spot in the Natioinal League.
The Dodgers' elimination number is 10, meaning if a combination of Dodgers losses and Cardinals wins add up to 10 then Los Angeles will be officially eliminated. But perhaps even worse for the Dodgers was that they were passed in the standings by the surging Milwaukee Brewers.
Since the trade with the Red Sox, the Dodgers have scored 3.13 runs per game and are 9-15 during that span. They have scored three runs or less in 16 of those games, and are 2-14 in those games.
Neither team scored in the first two innings, in the same vein that two boxers feel each other out in the early rounds. But if this matchup was a heavyweight fight it was more like Ali vs. Holmes, and it's easy to figure out which side had the name recognition and little substance left in the tank.
The Nationals took advantage of some sloppy mistakes from the Dodgers, scoring two runs in both the third and fourth innings. Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI double in the third, then scored on a wild pitch that should have been blocked by catcher A.J. Ellis, who has 11 passed balls on the season. Ellis also had a chance to throw the ball to a covering Chris Capuano at the plate, but he opted unsuccessfully to try to tag Zimmerman himself.
Then in the fourth inning Danny Espinosa doubled into the left field corner to score Ian Desmond from first base. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez grabbed the cutoff throw, but his relay throw home was poor, allowing Espinosa to reach third. From there, Espinosa easily scored on a sacrifice fly by Kurt Suzuki, his second sac fly in as many days.
Ross Detwiler retired the first nine batters he faced, but Mark Ellis broke up the perfect game with a leadoff home run in the fourth inning. It was the seventh home run of the year for Ellis, and his first on the road.
Capuano allowed four runs, three earned in his five innings, suffering the loss to even his record on the season to 11-11. Since the All-Star break Capuano is 2-7 with a 4.69 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break.
- Kenley Jansen pitched his first game since August 27 on Thursday, entering with two outs in the seventh inning with a runner on first base. Jansen got Zimmerman to ground out to end the inning.
Bobby Abreu picked up a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning, his first hit since rejoining the Dodgers on September 2. Abreu is now 1-for-10 with three walks this month, with all 13 of his appearances coming as a pinch hitter.
- A.J. Ellis went 0-for-3 on Thursday, extending his hitless streak to 23 consecutive at-bats. Ellis hasn't had a hit or a walk since September 9.
- This was the first series loss of the season for the Dodgers in the Eastern time zone. The Dodgers are now 15-5 in games in the Eastern time zone.
- The game wasn't a total loss, as during a pitching change in the bottom of the eighth inning, Take On Me by A-Ha played at Nationals Park, clearly audible on the television broadcast, and once the music stopped the fans completed the lyrics. That was awesome.
- The Nationals clinched a playoff spot with the win, the first postseason for a Washington D.C. baseball team since the Senators made the 1933 World Series.
The Dodgers move on to Cincinnati, where they will play a weekend series against the Reds. Joe Blanton starts the opener Friday against the Dodgers, while Bronson Arroyo and his high leg kick get the start for Cincinnati. In addition, Don Mattingly told reporters on Thursday that Aaron Harang would start the finale against the Reds on Sunday. It will be Harang's first start on three days rest since May 29, 2008.
Home Runs: Mark Ellis (7)
WP - Ross Detwiler (10-6): 6 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
LP - Chris Capuano (11-11): 5 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned runs), 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
Sv - Drew Storen (3): 1 IP, 3 strikeouts