A simple change in the batting order worked wonders for the Dodgers on Thursday, thanks to Justin Turner, who continued his red-hot hitting in a 6-3 win over the Nationals on getaway day at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
The Dodgers with the win moved to within four games of the idle Giants in the National League West.
Turner and Adrian Gonzalez were flipped in the batting order, with Turner batting cleanup for the first time since May 4 and Gonzalez hitting third for the first time since June 8, after hitting third and fourth, respectively in their last 15 times in the lineup together, and 60 times this season.
The revised order paid immediate dividends in the first inning, when Gonzalez doubled into the left field corner and Turner followed with a full-count home run to left field.
In the third inning, Gonzalez hit the third of three straight singles to add a run and give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead. Then Turner got a 3-0 count and made Stephen Strasburg pay with a towering three-run shot to center field for a 6-1 lead.
The five RBI matched Turner's career high, set on May 15, 2011 for the Mets in Houston.
For Turner, it gave him 14 home runs and 38 RBI in his last 37 games, to go with a .684 slugging percentage. His 17 home runs on the season are a new career high, surpassing the 16 he hit in 2015.
The Dodgers won five of six games against first-place Washngton this season. If they are to meet again in 2016, it would be in the playoffs.
Julio Urias rejoined the Dodgers after pitching just one inning in the previous 16 days, and after allowing a run in a 27-pitch first inning his day didn't look like it would last very long.
His start was relatively short, but Urias did settle down to last four innings, allowing just the one run on five hits with four strikeouts. He threw 77 pitches, 52 for strikes, and walked nobody for the first time in his nine major league starts.
After Urias walked nobody in his four innings, the Dodgers used seven relief pitchers to record the final 15 outs. They walked four batters in their five innings. The group allowed two runs.
Adam Liberatore pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and was deemed by the official scorer to have pitched the most effectively, earning the win that was up for grabs with Urias not lasting he requisite five frames.
All those runs for the Dodgers meant a rarity for Strasburg - a loss. After becoming the first National League pitcher in 104 years to begin a season 13-0, the right-hander suffered his first loss of the season and his first loss since Sept. 9, 2015. It snapped a streak of 16 consecutive decisions in his favor.
Strasburg did settle down after the second home run by Turner, retiring 12 of his final 13 batters faced, including eight by strikeout. The right-hander struck out 10 on the day.
The other Turner in this series, second baseman and rookie Trea Turner for the Nationals, already put his speed on full display in the first two games of the series, with two triples and an easy steal of home on a rundown play.
But on Thursday, Turner beat out a relatively routine grounder to shortstop, a play on which Chris Taylor moved only slightly but was unable to throw him out at first base. Turner is a right-handed batter, but gets to first base like he was a left-hander:
Got 4.06 on that Trea Turner infield single.— Kazuto Yamazaki (@Kazuto_Yamazaki) July 21, 2016
Trea Turner has Ichiro speed out of the right-handed batter's box. Jesus.— Jon Tayler (@JATayler) July 21, 2016
Turner advanced to second on a single, then stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly, his third run in the three-game series.
Howie Kendrick singled and scored in the third inning, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. During the streak, Kendrick is hitting .431 (22-for-51) with six doubles and a home run.
Kendrick was hitting .239 before the hitting streak began, and is now hitting .274.
The Dodgers, having evened their record on the road trip, move onto St. Louis, with Brandon McCarthy on the mound on Friday night at Busch Stadium, a 5:15 p.m. PT start. Michael Wacha starts for the Cardinals in the series opener.
Home runs: Justin Turner 2 (17)
WP - Adam Liberatore (2-0): 1 IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts
LP - Stephen Strasburg (13-1): 6 IP, 7 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (28): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout