The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Dodgers, who own a 9½-game lead in the National League West, and a magic number of four to clinch the division.
Leading 1-0 in the sixth inning, Ross Stripling was tasked with facing the heart of Washington’s lineup, and he was greeted in the inning by a walk from Anthony Rendon and a single by Daniel Murphy.
Zimmerman followed with a 109-mph drive over the tall wall in center field, giving the Nationals their first lead of the three-game series.
The Dodgers’ lead, before the Zimmerman home run at least, was because did something against Stephen Strasburg that hadn’t been done in 29 days. After a single by Yasiel Puig in the second inning, Logan Forsyhe with two outs drove a ball to deep center field that Michael Taylor ranged a long way to grab, only to see the ball bounce out of his glove. The play was scored as a double for Forsythe, but most importantly, the Dodgers grabbed the lead, snapping Strasburg’s scoreless streak at 35 innings, his first run allowed since Aug. 19.
But that was all Strasburg would allow in his six innings of work, striking out eight. Since the All-Star break — which includes missing four weeks on the disabled list with right elbow nerve impingement — Strasburg has allowed four runs in 50 innings (an 0.72 ERA), with 62 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Hyun-jin Ryu was the one putting up zeroes, at least before hitting a wall. After walking 14 in 21 innings over his last four starts, Ryu didn’t walk a batter until Strasburg drew a two-out, nine-pitch walk in the fifth, one batter after catcher Matt Wieters struck out in an 11-pitch at-bat. Ryu then walked leadoff man Trea Turner on six pitches, and clinging to a one-run lead manager Dave Roberts brought the hook, with Ryu one out shy of qualifying for a win.
Stripling relieved Ryu, and was greeted by Jayson Werth with a line drive down the left field line that was just foul. Replays appeared to show either chalk or some turf/dirt/grass flying where the ball hit, but upon review the foul call was upheld, robbing the Nationals of at least the tying run, if not more based on the umpire’s discretion.
One pitch later, Werth flew out harmlessly to center field, keeping Washington off the board, at least for a few minutes.
That kept Ryu’s ledger on Sunday nights this season spotless, with no runs allowed in 18⅔ innings in three starts, all in the last 50 days. Ryu in his career in six starts on ESPN ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ has a 1.67 ERA, with 36 strikeouts and nine walks in 37⅔ innings.
Walker Buehler made his fourth major league appearance on Sunday night, and made quick work of his first two batters, striking out Wilmer Difo and Turner looking on seven total pitches. But then he ran into some trouble, hitting Werth and surrendering a double down the left field line by Rendon to score Werth, padding the Nationals’ advantage.
Buehler has allowed at least a run in each of his last three appearances.
Zimmerman tacked on another run with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning against Josh Ravin, one of two home runs in a three-run frame to put this game to bed for Washington.
After Strasburg departed, the Dodgers couldn’t get much going against the Nationals’ big three relievers. The trio of Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Ryan Doolittle — all acquired via midseason trades — each pitched a scoreless inning to close out the win.
The Dodgers move their road show to Philadelphia for four games beginning Monday night, putting their best foot forward with Clayton Kershaw starting the opener, a 4:05 p.m. PT start. Rookie right-hander Nick Pivetta pitches for the Phillies.
Home runs: Ryan Zimmerman 2 (33), Adam Lind (12)
WP - Stephen Strasburg (14-4): 6 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
LP - Ross Stripling (3-5): 1⅓ IP, 2 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout