LOS ANGELES -- In a battle of ground ball-ish starting pitchers, Gio Gonzalez lived up to the billing on Labor Day while Roberto Hernandez did not. Washington captured the series opener thanks to four home runs off Hernandez, a 6-4 win on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers scored a run of closer Rafael Soriano and brought the tying runs on base with two outs in the ninth, setting up pinch-hitter Joc Pederson for one heck of a major league debut. Pederson ran the count full, and took a called third strike to end the game.
Hernandez hadn't allowed a home run in four starts as a Dodger before Monday, and in fact went six starts and 40 innings dating back to July 22 with Philadelphia before allowing a solo shot to center field by Jayson Werth in the first inning to open the scoring.
Matt Kemp answered with a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning to put the Dodgers up 2-1, but the Washington power display wasn't done yet.
Hernandez allowed solo home runs to Asdrubal Cabrera and Denard Span in the third inning, then again to Span with Cabrera on in the fifth inning, putting the Nats up 5-2 and chasing Hernandez.
"It was a lot like the Arizona game. He got behind in a lot of counts," said manager Don Mattingly. "In Arizona he got away with it. When you get behind in the count, you get in predictable counts where you have to throw strikes. You help them out a lot."
The four home runs are the most allowed by one pitcher in a game at Dodger Stadium since Randall Delgado gave up four on Sep. 9, 2013. The last Dodgers pitcher to allow four home runs at Dodger Stadium was Derek Lowe on July 2, 2005.
"It was a surprise to me as well," Hernandez said. "I didn't have command of my pitches since the first inning."
As a team the Dodgers have allowed four home runs in a home game just twice this season: their last two home games.
The Kemp home run was the only hit for the Dodgers until the seventh inning, when Kemp and Scott Van Slyke singled to open the frame, then Kemp scored one out later on a single by Juan Uribe. Then down 6-3 with two runners on base, catcher A. J. Ellis flew out and pinch hitter Justin Turner struck out to end the threat.
Gonzalez, aside from the home run, got 12 ground ball outs and one fly ball out to go with his four strikeouts, earning his seventh win of the season.
Yimi Garcia made his major league debut, pitching the final two innings in relief. He allowed one hit and no runs. The hit was to Bryce Harper, his first batter faced, who was erased on a double play. Garcia also struck out one, Anthony Rendon, his last batter faced, for his first major league strikeout.
Clayton Kershaw gets the start for the Dodgers on Tuesday night in the middle game of the series, facing Doug Fister for the Nationals.
Home runs: Matt Kemp (17); Jayson Werth (16), Asdrubal Cabrera (13), Denard Span 2 (4)
WP - Gio Gonzalez (7-9): 6+ IP, 3 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
LP -(8-10): 4⅓ IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Sv -(31): 1 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts