The Dodgers are proud of their patriotism.
Chase Utley hit a home run and knocked in three runs as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Nationals 8-4 on Tuesday night in the Nation's capital for their fourth straight victory over Washington.
Utley started the game with a leadoff home run and then knocked in runs in the second and eighth innings respectively as the "Heart and Hustle" award winner kept the Dodgers ahead of the NL East-leading Nationals all night.
"He [Lopez] threw me three fastballs," Utley said of the first at-bat of the game. "I hit one high enough over the wall and got us on the board."
Scott Kazmir was superb as he pitched into the seventh inning for the first time since May 14th, allowing just one run—a solo shot to Jose Lobaton in the fifth inning.
"Kaz has a lot of fight in him," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters after the game. "With what we're going through, guys have to step up and he was dominant. It was what we needed."
Kazmir (8-3) allowed just one run on four scattered hits with eight strikeouts in no walks in one of his best outings in a Dodgers uniform.
"I felt like I was walking on eggshells," Kazmir said. "I was a little cautious but it was fine."
The left-hander had fans holding their breath in the fifth inning when he appeared to tweak his right leg after a comebacker to the mound recorded the second out of the inning. After a mound visit, and a couple warm up throws that saw Kazmir wince in pain, he served a up a home run to Lobaton three pitches later.
"It was a cramp. He's had a history of cramping," said Roberts. "We got some bananas in him and got him hydrated and massaged and he went back out there."
After the inning, Kazmir headed straight to the locker room leading many to believe his night was done, but he made a surprising and triumphant return to the mound pitching scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh.
"I think I drank pretty much everything under the sun, some pickle juice and mustard," Kazmir said after the game, as seen on SportsNetLA. "I think I had a little bit of that on my face in the next half inning. But a lot of the stuff a tually worked."
Reynaldo Lopez struggled in his Major League debut as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball got shelled in the first two innings.
The No. 48 ranked prospect, allowed six runs on 10 hits with nine strikeouts in just 4 and 2/3 innings pitched. Lopez became the first pitcher in the last 100 years to strike out 9 batters in his debut lasting fewer than five innings.
Justin Turner had three hits and two runs scored and Howie Kendrick continued his hot streak with two hits and two runs scored himself.
Kendrick extended his hit streak to 12 games and is now 20-for-42 (.476) over that span.
Joc Pederson was activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game and immediately made his impact felt as he hit a two-run single in the first inning to give the Dodgers an early 3-0 lead.
LA was in cruise control until Chris Hatcher couldn't record an out in the bottom of the eighth inning. After a leadoff walk to Lobaton, Hatcher surrendered a single and triple as the Nationals got within three runs off the right-hander.
Yasmani Grandal added an insurance run with a solo shot in the top of the ninth inning. The Dodgers victory, coupled with the San Francisco Giants 4-0 loss to the Red Sox moves LA within 4.5 games of the NL West-leading Giants.
Players of the Game:
Chase Utley: 3-for-5 with a home run and 3 RBI.
Scott Kazmir: 1 run on four hits with eight strikeouts in 7 IP.
Jose Lobaton: 1-for-2 with a home run and two runs scored.
1. Viva Mexico! Adrian Gonzalez officially became the all-time hits leader in Mexican history. Gonzalez hit an RBI single in the fifth inning for his 1,856th hit, surpassing Vinny Castilla for the most by a Mexican player in MLB history.
2. Injury Riddled: The Dodgers placed pitchers Casey Fien and Hyun-Jin Ryu on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. The players were the MLB-leading 19th players placed on the DL this season for LA as the team leads the league with 1142 games missed by players this season. To put that into perspective, that's 30 percent more games than the second place team, the Angels, with 868 games missed, and nearly three times more than the NL West leading San Francisco Giants who have missed 417 games this season.
If I could write one Dodgers article without the word disabled list, that would be great. — Vincent Samperio (@VinceSamperio) July 19, 2016
3. The Audition: Reynaldo Lopez made his MLB debut on Tuesday for the Washington Nationals with veteran Joe Ross on the disabled list. With the trade deadline looming, Lopez may have been called up to make a start in order to audition for other MLB teams who could trade for him. It's rumored that the Nationals are interested in Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.
Reynaldo Lopez is the first pitcher in the last 100 years to strike out 9 batters in an MLB debut which lasted fewer than 5 innings — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 20, 2016
Dodgers (53-42): Bud Norris will get bumped up a day after Hyun-Jin Ryu was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Nationals (56-38): Washington will counter with Gio Gonzalez on Wednesday against the Dodgers.
All quotes courtesy of TWC's SportsNetLA.