Grandal stuns Nats, slugs LA to 5th straight win

June 22nd, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- Yasmani Grandal slugged a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday night as the Dodgers rallied for a 3-2 win over the Nationals, extending their win streak to a season-high five games.

"It's a grind for Yazzy," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "He's doing a great job behind the plate and that's priority No. 1. Offensively, he's been squaring a lot of balls up but maybe right at guys and he's getting frustrated. You know a few days ago he had that big at-bat, the walk-off walk, so to win it again today for us in fine fashion, that was fun."

Grandal, batting .177 at the time, homered off starter Tanner Roark (6-5), who was given a two-run lead on solo homers by Bryce Harper in the first inning and Danny Espinosa in the fifth off Dodgers starter Scott Kazmir. Harper's opposite-field home run (No. 15) was his third off a lefty this year. Espinosa's home run (No. 13) came on an 0-2 pitch.

"When you get guys in scoring position, it's your job to bear down and make pitches and get out of the inning," said Kazmir, who stranded five runners in scoring position. "You're one pitch away from giving up a run. It's a matter of bearing down, that's what good pitchers do and that's what I was able to do tonight."

Joc Pederson led off the eighth inning with the first walk of the game issued by Roark. Yasiel Puig, in his first game back from the disabled list, hit a line drive that tipped off the glove of leaping shortstop Espinosa for a single. Grandal cleared the center-field fence on a 1-2 fastball for his sixth home run.

Louis Coleman was credited with the win and Kenley Jansen his 21st save one night after setting the franchise career saves record.


Unconventional Utley:
After Roark's fifth-inning double, Ben Revere bounced to second baseman Chase Utley, who threw across the infield and nailed Roark sliding into third base. The Nationals went on to load the bases, but lefty Kazmir struck out the right-handed Ryan Zimmerman after intentionally walking the left-handed Daniel Murphy to escape.

"Daniel is one of the best hitters in baseball; not only slugs but drives runs in," said Roberts, explaining the strategy. "He's pretty much an even-split guy. No disrespect to Ryan Zimmerman, but to load the bases and get an out anywhere, I'll take our chances with Kaz there, so I just thought it was a gamble and could have backfired, but I felt confident."

Too many left on base: The Nats went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and that has frustrated manager Dusty Baker for most of the season. Their best chance to score in Tuesday's game occurred in the fifth inning. They had runners on first and second with one out against Kazmir. But Harper grounded out and, after Murphy was walked intentionally, and Zimmerman struck out to end the threat.

"We didn't hit with runners in scoring position. This is what we have to get better at," Baker said. "We had runners in scoring position the first four innings. We just couldn't get the hit. We hit a couple of balls hard. We have to get better picking up runners. I know the guys are trying. It's not because of lack of effort. We have to keep fighting. It's a tough stretch. We lost some tough ballgames."

Kendrick clutch: With two out in the top of the eighth inning, Roark singled to left field. Catcher Wilson Ramos tried to score from second base, but left fielder Howie Kendrick charged and threw out Ramos at the plate to keep the Washington lead at 2-0.

"To pick up a position like that after pretty much his whole career in the infield, that diving catch and play at the plate were huge," said Kazmir. "But I really expected that from Howie. He's a selfless guy and an athlete."

Power punch: Espinosa hammered his 13th homer of the season in the fifth inning, his 10th home run since May 26. Only two shortstops -- Colorado's Trevor Story (18) and Los Angeles' Corey Seager (15) -- have more homers than Espinosa this season.


The Dodgers have homered in 12 consecutive games, their longest streak since they had 12 in 2002.

Harper is hitting .333 [8-for-24] with two home runs and five RBIs during the first six games of the Nationals' road trip.


Nationals: It's rare that Joe Ross, 23, is the veteran pitcher in his outing, but he will be compared to his Dodgers counterpart when the Nationals wrap up a three-game series in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. Ross owns a 5.82 ERA in three starts this month. First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. ET.

Dodgers: Julio Urias, 19, gets the ball Wednesday night in the series finale with a 7:10 p.m. PT start. Urias is coming off his best start of five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. But he's still looking for his first Major League victory.

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