Hanley Ramirez continued to make Dodgers manager Don Mattingly look prescient on Saturday night. Ramirez doubled home Adrian Gonzalez for the go ahead run in the 10th inning against Craig Stammen to give the Dodgers a 3-1 win over the Nationals.
The second straight win for the Dodgers pulled them to within a half-game of the Diamondbacks in the National League West. The Dodgers are 19-5 in their last 24 games and are 6-0-3 in their last nine series.
All throughout spring training, Mattingly had high hopes for Ramirez. On multiple occasions Mattingly spoke of his shortstop in reverent tones with a comment not unlike this February quote:
"Here's my belief with Hanley Ramirez: On any given day he's out there, he's a guy with a really good chance to be the best player on the field."
Ramirez was 3-for-5 on Saturday night and has 25 RBI and 24 runs scored in his last 28 games. On the season Ramirez is hitting .390/.444/.706 and has been every bit the player Mattingly said he was. The Dodgers are 23-12 when Ramirez starts and 26-35 when he doesn't.
The 10th inning rally punctuated what was the second straight pitching duel at Nationals Park.
Zack Greinke pitched through quite a bit of trouble, especially early. He allowed five runners into scoring position through the first three frames, but stranded them all. He recovered to retire eight straight and 10 of 11 while pitching scoreless ball into the sixth inning.
Greinke extended his scoreless streak to 21 innings on Saturday, the longest streak by a Dodgers pitcher this season. It is the longest streak by a Dodger since Clayton Kershaw had 22 consecutive scoreless innings from May 8-19, 2012.
But the streak ended in the sixth inning despite Greinke getting the first two outs. Chad Tracy, starting for a second straight night for an ill Adam LaRoche at first base, singled for his third hit of the night. A walk to catcher Wilson Ramos but two runners on but also forced Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez out of the game. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, pinch hitter Roger Bernadina lofted a single into shallow right field for a 1-0 lead as a cost to that benefit.
Gonzalez pitched six scoreless innings and allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out 11. The 11 punchouts set a new season high against the Dodgers, topping the 10 by Cliff Lee on June 29.
Though Drew Storen began the seventh inning by recording two outs, the Dodgers took advantage of the fact that he wasn't Gonzalez. Skip Schumaker, pinch hitting for Greinke, doubled to the wall in the right center field gap, then scored on a base hit by Mark Ellis.
The Dodgers bullpen combined for four scoreless innings, with three hits and a walk allowed, and five strikeouts.
- Paco Rodriguez struck out Bryce Harper in the seventh inning, the only better the southpaw Rodriguez faced on Saturday. Rodriguez has retired 15 consecutive batters over his last six appearances, including eight strikeouts. The last person to reach base against Rodriguez was Carlos Gonzalez, who singled on July 3.
- Chris Withrow pitched a scoreless ninth inning, including a called strikeout of Harper, to pick up his first major league win. Withrow is the 512th Dodger in franchise history to earn a victory.
- Greinke had two of the Dodgers' four hits against Gonzalez, including a double. In July, Greinke is 7-for-10 with two doubles and a walk, and on the season is hitting .406/.486/.469 in 39 plate appearances.
- Yasiel Puig went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, all five at-bats coming with runners on base, including three times with runners in scoring positon, and is now hitless in his last 11 at-bats.
The Dodgers go for the sweep on Sunday morning, with ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound five days after tossing a scoreless inning in the All-Star Game in New York. Jordan Zimmermann, who has not lost at home since 2012, starts the series finale for the Nationals.
Home runs: none
WP - Chris Withrow (1-0): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
LP - Craig Stammen (5-5): ⅓ IP, 2 hits, 2 runs
Sv - Kenley Jansen (11): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts