Redding leads Nats, sending Dodgers to 6th straight loss

WASHINGTON -- Finally, everything was all set for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

They were one big hit away from ending their five-game losing streak and making up some ground on the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. All they needed was one measly hit.

They didn't get it. And Los Angeles lost a season-high sixth straight game instead, falling 5-4 to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night and staying three games behind Arizona, which also lost its fourth straight.

"To me, I look at it as missed opportunity," manager Joe Torre said. "Sure, we could be farther behind, but we could be ahead."

Part of the reason they're not -- and that they're in danger of being swept by the worst team in the big leagues on Thursday -- is that the Dodgers have scored just 10 runs in the past six games.

The end of the streak was tantalizingly close. Down by two runs entering the eighth inning, Los Angeles started a comeback bid with singles by Manny Ramirez and James Loney. With two outs, Casey Blake's bloop single scored Ramirez to bring the Dodgers within a run, and pinch hitter Mike Sweeney walked to load the bases.

Washington brought on closer Joel Hanrahan to face Matt Kemp. Hanrahan needed just two pitches to end the rally, getting Kemp to pop up to left field.

"It doesn't feel good to go out there and lose," Kemp said. "Especially when we know we're better and we're capable of doing a lot of good things."

Nationals starter Tim Redding (9-8) held the Dodgers in check for six innings, allowing three solo homers among eight hits.

Greg Maddux (6-11) allowed two earned runs and four overall on eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. In the third inning, a rare defensive lapse by Maddux led to a run.

With runners on first and third and one out, Maddux fielded Lastings Milledge's comebacker and threw to second in an attempt to start a double play. The throw sailed high, landing in the glove of second baseman Jeff Kent backing up the play. Kent's throw to first was too late to catch Milledge, and Willie Harris came home to score the tying run before Ronnie Belliard's RBI single gave Washington a 3-2 lead.

"I'd like that throw back," Maddux said.

Washington added a run on another Dodger miscue in the fourth, when Emilio Bonifacio scored from second on an error by Kent.

Ryan Zimmerman gave the Nationals a cushion with a shot in the seventh, homering for the first time since May 17.

Loney and Blake homered in the second to give the Dodgers an early lead. Washington got a run back in the bottom half when Milledge singled, stole second and then came home on a pair of groundouts.

Andre Ethier homered in the fifth for Los Angeles.

"I've been bitten by the home run in the second half," Redding said. "I don't know what it is. A lot of them have been the solo variety. It gives our team a chance to stay in the game."

The Dodgers have lost eight straight road games for the first time since June 2005.

"I'm getting real tired of it, as is everybody," Blake said. "You play this game long enough and you know teams are going to hit skids like this, it's just part of the game. But it's still frustrating to go through it."

Torre has been keeping an eye on the Diamondbacks' games lately -- "You can't help it," he said -- but remaining close in the standings while struggling is small consolation.

"We don't care about the Diamondbacks," Kemp said. "We have to worry about what's going on here. If we take care of our business, the standings will come out if we keep winning. We're not worried about the Diamondbacks, just like they're probably not worried about us."

Game notes
Los Angeles recalled IF Blake DeWitt from Triple-A Las Vegas and designated IF Pablo Ozuna for assignment before the game. ... Ethier's 17 homers lead the Dodgers. ... Maddux entered the game with 353 wins, the first time a pitcher with at least 350 wins pitched in Washington since Walter Johnson's final home game with the Washington Senators on Sept. 22, 1927. ... Nats LF Elijah Dukes was 1-for-4 in his return from the DL. Dukes missed 19 games with a strained calf.