Zimmerman’s 2 HRs propel Nationals past Dodgers
WASHINGTON — Ryan Zimmerman laughed and jerked his head around to his right late Sunday night after he was asked what he took away from a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers that ended minutes earlier.
“They are a good team. That is what you take away,” said first baseman Zimmerman, standing by his locker around midnight in the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse.
Had it not been for two home runs by Zimmerman on Sunday, the Nationals may have had a little doubt in their minds about where they stood after the Dodgers won the first two games of the series while allowing just two runs and eight hits.
However, Washington exploded with three home runs for a 7-1 victory over Los Angeles in a showdown of playoff-bound teams.
Zimmerman hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth inning and added a solo shot in the eighth, and Stephen Strasburg won his fourth start in a row. The right-hander has allowed just one run in his past 40 innings.
“It is fun to watch,” Zimmerman said of Strasburg.
Zimmerman (3-for-4, four RBIs) lined a three-run shot off Ross Stripling with no outs in the sixth to give the Nationals a 3-1 lead. Anthony Rendon led off with a walk against Stripling, and Daniel Murphy (2-for-4) singled up the middle to bring up Zimmerman, who struck out in his first two trips.
“Well, yeah, it was big, cause we were behind,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said. “We were getting shut out, having trouble scoring runs, and that was a big home run. And Zim had a great day, and boy, it was an exciting game to watch and manage, and it was on national TV, so it was about time we kind of made a good showing on national TV.”
Stripling (3-5) yielded three runs and two hits with one walk and one strikeout in 1 1/3 innings.
“He just didn’t make pitches,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Zimmerman hadn’t homered since Sept. 6 at Miami. His previous homer at Nationals Park was Aug. 16 against the Los Angeles Angels — a dry spell of 47 at-bats at home.
Rendon had an RBI double down the left field line off rookie reliever Walker Buehler with two outs in the seventh for a 4-1 cushion.
Zimmerman tied a career high with his 33rd homer in his next at-bat against Dodgers reliever Josh Ravin in the eighth. Adam Lind hit his fourth pinch-hit homer of the year, and 12th long ball overall, later in the eighth for a 7-1 advantage.
“A big weapon to have,” Zimmerman said of Lind. “You don’t really lose anything” when Lind gives Zimmerman a day off.
Strasburg (14-4) gave up just one run and three hits with three walks and eight strikeouts in six innings. Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle each pitched a scoreless inning for the Nationals.
The first-place Nationals (90-59) have won two of six games since clinching the National League East title on Sept. 10.
The Dodgers (96-53) had won four straight after losing 11 games in a row. Los Angeles has a magic number of four to clinch the NL West after the Arizona Diamondbacks lost earlier Sunday.
Baker, a former Dodgers outfielder, reached 90 wins in a season as a manager for the 10th time. He is one of just 12 managers to do so; the other 11 are in the Hall of Fame.
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the second.
Yasiel Puig led off with a single as his broken bat and the ball whizzed past Strasburg.
Puig then stole second base and scored on a two-out double by No. 8 hitter Logan Forsythe. The ball bounced off the glove of center fielder Michael A. Taylor as he was running at full speed toward the wall on the warning track.
It was the first earned run allowed by Strasburg in 35 2/3 innings.
Ryu went 4 2/3 innings, giving up no runs and three hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
“I thought he was really good all night long,” Roberts said of Ryu. “There was a point he got a little winded. The change was great all night long. He really pitched a heck of a ballgame.”
However, Strasburg was good, too, and the Nationals’ bullpen came through again, allowing two hits in three innings.
“The significance was we beat them two out of three out there and they beat two out of three here, and so we end up 3-3,” Baker said.
NOTES: Each team started a University of Virginia product: 1B Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals and CF Chris Taylor of the Dodgers. Washington LHP Sean Doolittle also played for the Cavaliers. ... Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (17-3, 2.12 ERA) will start Monday in Philadelphia against Phillies RHP Nick Pivetta (5-10, 6.75), a former Washington minor-leaguer. ... The Nationals are off Monday. RHP Max Scherzer (14-6, 2.59) is slated to start Tuesday in Atlanta against Braves RHP Luiz Gohara (1-1, 6.30). ... Tulsa, the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, lost 6-3 on Sunday in the decisive fifth game of the Texas League finals against Midland, a farm team of the Oakland A’s.