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Dodgers Play Small But Win Big over Nationals 8-3

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Lacking the big hits since the All Star Break, the Los Angeles Dodgers resorted to small ball for an 8-3 victory over the Washington Nationals.

Manager Joe Torre all week repeated that the Dodgers had to manufacture more offense in order to be consistent. The team took that to heart and chugged right out of the gate in the first inning. In fact they scored their first run without having gotten a hit.

Scott Podsednik led things off with a walk and stole second base during Ryan Theriot’s at-bat. Theriot laid down a sacrifice bunt that Nationals’ starter Jason Marquis (L, 0-4) couldn’t handle sending Podsednik to third base and stole second base during Andre Ethier’s at-bat. Catcher Wil Nieves overthrew shortstop Ian Desmond covering second allowing Podsednik to score. One run, no hits.

After Ethier walked, James Loney kept the rally going with a 3-2 single to left field with the runners going to score Theriot for the 2-0 lead. Jamey Carroll hit a two-run single for the 4-0 lead, however was caught stealing second to end the rally.

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The Dodgers attempted four stolen bases in the first inning getting caught only once.

After back-to-back doubles in the fourth inning by Jamey Carroll and AJ Ellis yielded a run making it a 5-2 game, the Dodgers returned to small ball in the sixth inning.

Ronnie Belliard hit a one-out liner just over the outstretched glove of shortstop Desmond that landed in shallow left centerfield. On a perfectly executed hit-and-run, Belliard got Desmond to cover second as Jamey Carroll hit a grounder in the just-vacated spot for a single allowing Belliard to get to third. Jay Gibbons in his first Major League action since 2007 with the Baltimore Orioles hit a pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning that scored Carroll for the 6-3 lead. His last hit and RBI came on August 9, 2007 against the Seattle Mariners at Oriole’s Park at Camden Yard.

“I was just fortunate enough to guide it back up the middle,” Gibbons beamed.

The Dodgers added two more runs in the eighth inning on Reed Johnson’s pinch-hit single for the 8-3 lead.

The bottom of the Dodgers’ order was especially productive getting eight of the Dodgers’ 10 hits driving in six runs.

“You can’t count on that as a steady diet,” Torre admitted. “We still need to get the middle of the order going.”

And nothing demonstrates that more than Matt Kemp’s four strikeout golden sombrero day.

“He’s struggling,” Torre conceded.

Not struggling however was Dodgers’ starter Ted Lilly (W, 5-8) with another economical outing going six innings giving up three runs on 88 pitches while not allowing a walk. The only mistakes he made were the back-to-back homers to Michael Morse and Justin Maxwell in the second inning - the third time this season the Nationals have gone back-to-back.

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“I thought my ball was a little flat, so I had to work at trying to get back on top of it,” Lilly admitted on the mistakes. “It starts by throwing strike one and starting from there.”

The Nationals made it 5-3 on an Alberto Gonzalez sacrifice fly that scored Nieves.