WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers had no trouble
clearing the fences at Washington's big ballpark Tuesday night.
The Nationals, meanwhile, can't seem to score much by any means
-- or win the close games they dominated earlier this season.
Jeff Kent hit one of four homers that accounted for all of Los
Angeles' runs in a 5-4 victory over slumping Washington, which has
lost its last 11 one-run games.
"That's a lot of home runs hit in this ballpark. That's kind of
strange," Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro said. "One run
short. It is frustrating every time now. We're looking like we're
down the stretch now. We can't afford to keep losing. We've got to
find a way."
Entering the night, a total of 52 home runs had been hit in 50
games at RFK Stadium, which hadn't been used for regular-season
major league baseball since the Senators left after the 1971
During batting practice, several Dodgers noticed that the best
way to hit homers at RFK is to the gaps and down the lines, where
each of Tuesday's four shots traveled.
"We kept them out of the middle of the field," Phillips said.
"The middle of the field is big."
Several Washington players felt vindicated last month when the
team remeasured and determined that the outfield gaps were more
than 10 feet farther from home plate than originally marked. But
the Nationals have trouble scoring everywhere lately, with or
In their last 15 games -- of which they've lost 12 -- never have
they scored more than four runs. On Tuesday, Washington went
1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base.
Seven of its nine hits were singles.
"It always seems to come back and get us at the end when we
don't take advantage of those opportunities early in the game,"
said outfielder Brad Wilkerson, who was stranded after hitting a
two-run triple with one out in the third inning off winner Jeff
Weaver (9-8). "We've been doing that a lot lately."
Before the recent drought in one-run games, the Nationals surged
to the top of the NL East thanks to a 24-8 mark in such contests.
Now they're 5½ games behind Atlanta in the division and trail
Houston in the wild-card standings.
"When you're winning those games, it has a positive effect on
you," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "When you're losing
those games, it has a negative effect."
The Dodgers, meanwhile, had lost two straight and four of five
to fall 11 games under .500 entering Tuesday.
Weaver left after facing one batter in the seventh inning. He
allowed two runs and six hits. Yhency Brazoban pitched the ninth
for his 21st save. After Vidro nearly was thrown out legging out a
double with two outs, Brazoban retired Jose Guillen on a grounder
to end it.
Nationals starter Esteban Loaiza (6-7) gave up three homers,
including Kent's shot on the first pitch of the second inning. That
gave Kent 20 homers for the ninth consecutive season -- a record for
a second baseman.
"The final trip he makes will be to Cooperstown," Dodgers
manager Jim Tracy said.
Repko hit his sixth homer of the season in the fifth, and
Phillips broke a 2-all tie in the seventh with a two-run shot after
Choi made it 5-2 in the eighth with his first career pinch-hit
homer. It came on reliever Hector Carrasco's second pitch of the
The Nationals scored on Vinny Castilla's sacrifice fly in the
eighth off reliever Steve Schmoll. Then, with runners at the
corners and Jonathan Broxton pitching with two outs, the Nationals
pulled to 5-4 thanks to an unearned run. Preston Wilson stole
second, and Dodgers catcher Dioner Navarro's throw sailed into
center field for an error that allowed Guillen to trot home from
Broxton walked Brian Schneider, then got pinch-hitter Carlos
Baerga to ground out to end the inning.
The Dodgers' four homers tied their season high. ... The
Nationals are the only team in major league history to win 12
straight one-run games and lose 11 straight such games in the same