Prior to the start of a three-game weekend set against the Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters it was more important for his team to play good baseball than it was to make a statement against the team chasing it for the best record in the National League. The Dodgers ended up doing both in the opener, and hope for more of the same Saturday when they continue their series in Washington against the Nationals.
Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig and Corey Seager all homered in the first two innings to back a dominant pitching performance from Alex Wood in Friday’s 7-0 victory, sending Los Angeles to its third straight win after dropping 16 of 17 from Aug. 26-Sept. 11. The Dodgers (95-52) also lowered their magic number to clinch the NL West to six games pending the result of a late encounter between Arizona and San Francisco, and opened up a six-game lead over Washington (89-58) for the best record in the NL. The Nationals mustered only four hits against Wood and two relievers while falling to defeat for the third time in four outings. The offense has been lacking for the NL East champions over that stretch, totaling seven runs while getting shut out twice.
TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, Fox
PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Rich Hill (9-8, 3.67 ERA) vs. Nationals RH A.J. Cole (2-4, 4.30)
Hill was saddled with his fourth loss in as many starts Sunday against Colorado, giving up at least one homer for the eighth consecutive outing among the two runs he allowed over five innings. Since barely missing out on a perfect game in Pittsburgh on Aug. 23, the 37-year-old has posted a 6.14 ERA over his next three turns. Ryan Zimmerman is 6-for-9 with two home runs against Hill, who last faced Washington twice in the 2016 NL Divisional Series and permitted five runs across seven innings over two starts.
Cole will be making his first start for the Nationals since getting the win at Miami on Sept. 4, having pitched twice in relief over that span. The 25-year-old rookie worked two scoreless frames against Philadelphia last Saturday but was roughed up for three runs on five hits across two innings versus Atlanta on Tuesday. Cole is limiting right-handed hitters to a .229 average (.301 against left-handers) as he enters his first career start against the Dodgers.
1. With one more victory, the Dodgers will post their most wins in a season since going 98-64 in 1977.
2. Washington 2B Daniel Murphy fanned three times against Wood on Friday, marking the first time since May 20, 2014 - a span of 504 games - he struck out three times in a contest.
3. Los Angeles OF Andre Ethier went 2-for-4 with an RBI double in the opener and remains one homer shy of tying Shawn Green (162) for eighth place on the Dodgers all-time list.
PREDICTION: Dodgers 5, Nationals 3