LOS ANGELES – Not so fast.
Washington starter Tanner Roark breezed through seven shutout innings on just 96 pitches on Tuesday. Unfortunately, it was the 97th that Roark regrets.
Yasmani Grandal hit a three-run home run off Roark in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers came from behind to shock the Washington Nationals, 3-2, for their fifth straight win on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
"He did a really good job today keeping us off the bases. He got me on the outer half of the plate in my first two at-bats and as a catcher you admire that," Grandal said of Roark. "But in my third at-bat I was trying to hit the ball in the air in that situation. I was just able to get it in the air enough and to dead-center and it went out."
Roark was dominant for seven innings before he proverbially ran out of gas in the eighth. The Nationals' right-hander made it past the seventh inning without allowing a run for an MLB-leading fifth time this season, but he was done in by Grandal and the Dodgers in the eighth.
"I felt strong throughout the entire game except for one pitch," Roark said. "I was trying to make a pitch inside to Grandal to get the double play and I left it over the middle. If you make a mistake, they hit it far."
Joc Pederson worked a leadoff walk and Yasiel Puig singled off the glove of shortstop Danny Espinosa to put runners on first and second for Grandal. Grandal fouled off a 94 MPH fastball before he sent a rocket over the centerfield wall on the very next pitch.
"I got the same swing on almost the same pitch and I was able to do it," Grandal who was very emotional as he rounded the bases said of his game-winning homer. "I play with a lot of anger built up inside, so that home run was a release of that anger."
Bryce Harper and Espinosa both hit solo home runs off Dodgers' starter Scott Kazmir who was lucky to exit the game with just two runs allowed.
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"We were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position," said Nationals' manager Dusty Baker. "I was hoping it wouldn't come back to get us, but we just couldn't get the big hit."
Kazmir surrendered just two runs on eight hits with four strikeouts in six innings pitched, but six of his eight hits allowed went for extra bases. He joined Luke Hamlin as the only other Dodger pitcher to allow six extra base hits in a single game and only allow two runs or less.
"When you get guys in scoring position, you know you're one pitch away from giving up a run," Kazmir said. "It's a matter of bearing down and getting that strike. It's what good pitchers do and I was able to do that tonight."
Kazmir found himself in a heap of trouble after he issued an intentional walk to hot-hitting Daniel Murphy to load the bases for the right-handed Ryan Zimmerman. Normally, a left-handed pitcher would never issue a free pass to a lefty batter to face a righty, but the move worked as Kazmir struck out Zimmerman to end the threat in the fifth.
"It was a little weird to intentionally walk a lefty, but I felt like the situation that we were in made sense," Kazmir said of the situation. "I wanted to attack him [Zimmerman] inside with a fastball and finish him off with a changeup."
The game marked Kazmir's sixth quality start of the season as the veteran left-hander is 3-0 with a 3.69 ERA in his last eight starts.
"I was a lot more consistent than I was in my last couple of starts," concluded Kazmir. "That's a big positive."
Roark (6-5) took the loss for the first time since May 25, allowing three runs on six hits with five strikeouts in 7 and 1/3 innings. He also registered his first hits of the season—a double off Kazmir in the fith inning--and a single off Lou Coleman in the eighth.
The Dodgers all-time saves leader in franchise history, Kenley Jansen, worked the ninth for his 21st of the season, and 162nd of his career.
It won't show up in the box score, but left-fielder Howie Kendrick made some dazzling defensive plays in the game. The converted second baseman recorded his third outfield assist of the season when he gunned down Wilson Ramos at the plate to end the eighth inning.
"Howie is making that transition to left field look seamless," Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts said. "He's a baseball player and he looks really comfortable out there."
The spectactular play kept the Nationals lead at just two, allowing Grandal's three-run homer to be the go-ahead runs the Dodgers need to win the game.
Los Angeles has won a season-high five games in a row and have rallied to win five times when they trail after seven innings.
Players of the Game:
Yasmani Grandal: Game-winning three-run homer.
Bryce Harper: solo home run.
Danny Espinosa: solo home run
1. Free Pass: A funny thing happened on the way to the fifth inning. Scott Kazmir intentionally walked left-handed hitter Daniel Murphy to load the bases and face right-handed power hitter Ryan Zimmerman. The moved worked as Kazmir struck out Zimmerman to end the inning.
Ryan Zimmerman struck out with the bases loaded. He's now 0-9 with the bases loaded this season, the most such at bats without a hit in MLB — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 22, 2016
2. Hot Potato: Scott Kazmir became the first Dodgers pitcher since 1940 to allow six extra base hits but only two runs. The last Dodger to do it was Luke "Hot Potato" Hamlin in 1940.
The Dodgers pitcher who last allowed 6 XBH but only 2 runs, in 1940, was Luke Hamlin, whose nickname was Hot Potato. — Eric Stephen (@truebluela) June 22, 2016
3. Harper Strong: Bryce Harper hit his 15th home run of the season in the first inning when he sent a Scott Kazmir fastball into the left-field pavilion. Surprisingly, the opposite field blast was Harper's first home run to left field all season.
Bryce Harper's homer went opposite way to left field. That's a rarity, according to the spray chart of previous 14. pic.twitter.com/Nn2dWT3E0X — Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) June 22, 2016
Nationals (43-29): Joe Ross concludes the three-game series for Washington as the Nats look to take the series on Wednesday.
Dodgers (40-33): The "Teenager," Julio Urias tries to earn his first career MLB-victory as LA looks to win the rubber match at 7:10 PM PST.
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