3 up, 3 down: Dodgers 2, Nationals 0
April, 29, 2012
By Tony Jackson | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- In a battle between the two teams vying for the National League's best record, the Dodgers completed an unlikely, three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals on Sunday with a 2-0 victory before 48,753 at Dodger Stadium.
With that, the Dodgers improved to 16-6, marking the first time this season they have climbed 10 games above the .500 mark, and maintained their four-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
In a tense pitchers' duel between the Dodgers' Chris Capuano and the Nationals' Gio Gonzalez, the Dodgers finally broke through with the game's only runs on a two-run single by struggling first baseman James Loney with one out in the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly added fuel to his club's budding closer controversy by calling upon Kenley Jansen, usually the team's eighth-inning setup man, to close out the game. Only when Jansen got into immediate trouble, walking Adam LaRoche to begin the inning and then going to a 2-0 count on Xavier Nady, did regular closer Javy Guerra begin throwing in the pen, alongside lefty Scott Elbert.
But after a visit from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Jansen managed to calm down and finish it off for his second save, securing a victory for Capuano (3-0).
Cruising. Any concerns about Capuano's ability to pitch deep into a game -- the Dodgers actually waited a day to activate Todd Coffey from the disabled list just so they could keep long reliever Nathan Eovaldi around for insurance with Capuano starting -- appeared to be alleviated by the end of the third inning, when the veteran lefty had retired all nine Nationals hitters, striking out five of them. He went on to give the Dodgers 6 2/3 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out nine batters. He cut his ERA for the season to 2.73 -- 1.80 if you remove his first start on April 7 at San Diego.
Once in a blue moon. Loney got a bit hit off a left-handed pitcher. His two-run, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the sixth not only broke up a scoreless game, but also broke Gonzalez's 25-inning scoreless streak, the longest by a Nationals pitcher since the team moved to Washington from Montreal in 2005. It also gave Loney a rare hit against a lefty, leaving him 3-for-19 against them for the season.
Still untouchable. Josh Lindblom retired four of the five batters he faced after relieving Capuano in the seventh. Lindblom, who made the Opening Day roster only because Ted Lilly began the season on the disabled list, has now allowed one run in 13 2/3 innings this season.
Ethier mini-slump. Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier is hitless in his past eight at-bats with five strikeouts. Ethier interrupted his failure-to-reach-base streak with a couple of walks off Gonzalez in the middle innings, but he still hasn't had a hit since his third-inning single against Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler on Friday night.
Gordon still struggling. Leadoff man Dee Gordon got a rare day off, but he was inserted into the game as part of a seventh-inning double switch, then led off the bottom half with a grounder to short. That ran Gordon's own hitless streak to seven at-bats, during which he hasn't hit a single ball out of the infield.
The end of an era. Well, sort of. Amy Summers, a fixture in the Dodgers public-relations office for more than five seasons, worked her final game Sunday. She's going to work for Time Warner, and she will be missed.