Final

Series: Game 1 of 3

Washington leads 1-0 (as of 5/26)

Game 1: Friday, May 26
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Game 2: Saturday, May 27
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Game 3: Sunday, May 28
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Dodgers 4

(27-21, 11-11 away)

Nationals 10

(20-29, 9-12 home)

7:05 PM ET, May 26, 2006

RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. 

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W: L. Hernandez (3-5)

L: B. Tomko (5-2)

Red-hot Soriano, Nats end Dodgers' seven-game streak

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Alfonso Soriano experiment produced home run No. 17, stolen base No. 12, and league-leading outfield assist No. 9 on Friday night.

The move that made the Washington Nationals a laughingstock in the spring is now producing a clubhouse full of smiles for a team that has won four straight and six of seven.

The converted second baseman went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a two-run homer and three runs scored in a 10-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had a seven-game winning streak snapped.

"He's not your typical leadoff hitter," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said, "but he certainly makes thing happen."

Brian Schneider went 2-for-4 in his return from the disabled list, Ryan Zimmerman had three RBI for the second straight game, and Livan Hernandez (3-5) allowed six hits over seven innings to win his second straight start. Every Nationals starter except the pitcher got at least one hit, and Brett Tomko (5-2) was chased after 4 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of the year.

"Everybody's bat is coming along. It's kind of catching," Robinson said. "You can't force these things, nobody can explain it. Baseball's one of those things. A team starts doing things right, and all of a sudden you're having success, and it seems to rub off on everybody throughout the lineup."

Soriano is proving to be the spark plug. He was so miffed at being converted to the outfield that he refused to take the field during a spring training game. He's still an adventure to watch defensively -- his assists come because the opposition keeps testing his novice outfield skills -- but the four-time All-Star said this is his best offensive season of his career. His 10 home runs at RFK Stadium in 21 games matches the most by any National since baseball returned to the ballpark last year.

"I feel more comfortable at home plate," Soriano said. "I think I'm more patient now. I wait for my pitch, and that's what it's all about."

Soriano got his assist in the fifth, when Willy Aybar hit a pop up to left that landed out of the reach of Soriano, shortstop Royce Clayton and third baseman Zimmerman. Aybar tried to stretch the single into a double, but Soriano picked up the ball and whipped it to Jose Vidro for the 7-4 putout.

Soriano has accounted for 75 percent of the Nationals' outfield assists this year. The other outfielders on the roster have three combined.

"In the meeting, the other team, they say, 'If you've got a chance to run, then run," Soriano said. "I've never played left field. I'm not too comfortable in left field. Maybe in a couple of months, I feel more comfortable in left and I stay there. Who knows?"

Soriano led off the first with a double and scored on a single by Vidro, who entered the game leading the NL with a .347 average. Vidro walked in the third, and he and Nick Johnson scored on Zimmerman's double over the head of center fielder Kenny Lofton.

Soriano doubled off the right field wall in the fourth and scored on a single by Clayton, giving the Nationals a 4-0 lead. The Nationals chased Tomko in the fifth, when Damian Jackson tripled home Johnson.

Tomko allowed nine hits and a season-high six runs.

"I just got in a lot of deep counts, got behind pretty much everybody," Tomko said. "When you're behind, basically you're just flipping a coin. I just wasn't making pitches when I needed to."

Schneider, who had missed 14 games with a strained left hamstring, was a welcome returnee. The Nationals struggled at catcher in his absence, especially Thursday, when Matthew LeCroy allowed seven stolen bases and made two throwing errors before Robinson reluctantly removed him for Robert Fick after three batters in the seventh. The move upset the manager so much that he shed tears when discussing it after the game.

Trailing 6-0, the Dodgers finally got to Hernandez in a three-run seventh, keyed by Olmedo Saenz's two-run double. But the Nationals answered with two in the eighth off reliever Lance Carter.

Game notes


After the game, the Nationals outrighted C Wiki Gonzalez to New Orleans and purchased the contract of RHP Shawn Hill from the Triple-A club. Hill will start Saturday, taking the injured Zach Day's spot in the rotation. ... The 10 runs were more than the Dodgers had allowed in their previous six games combined. The last time they allowed 10 runs was May 3 at home against San Diego. ... After going 8-17 in April, the Nationals are 12-12 in May.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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