Adam LaRoche didn’t start the game, but he proved critical to Wednesday afternoon’s outcome nonetheless. LaRoche hit a pinch-hit home run off of Kenley Jansen in the ninth and then drove in three more in extras, including the game winner in the 14th. After late game heroics, dropped fly balls, escaping bases loaded jams, and three blown saves combined between the two teams, the Nats beat the Dodgers, 8-5.
A day after facing the likely NL Cy Young winner in Clayton Kershaw, the Nats once again struggled against a Dodger starter. Carlos Frias, making his first big league start, kept the Nationals bats silent throughout. His day finished after six innings of work, allowing just three hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
Jordan Zimmermann cruised through six innings, dominating the Dodgers lineup until the start of the seventh. In the seventh, however, Zimmermann allowed a blooper to Carl Crawford that resulted in a double, and then Justin Turner put the Dodgers up 2-0 with a home run to center field. Zimmermann’s day finished after 6 1/3, allowing two earned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out eight.
Matt Thornton finished off the Dodgers in the seventh, striking out two.
After LaRoche’s homer tied up the score 2-2, Denard Span singled home Danny Espinosa to give the Nats a 3-2 lead, but Rafael Soriano failed to close out the game when an error by Jayson Werth scored Andre Ethier.
Escaping one-out bases loaded jams in both the 10th and 11th, the Nats took the lead in the 12th when LaRoche drove in two with a single to left. Unfortunately, Tyler Clippard allowed the Dodgers to once again tie the game when Crawford hit a two-run home run to center field.
The Nats scored the go-ahead run in the 14th on LaRoche’s RBI groundout. Ian Desmond, on third after advancing on a Kevin Correia (7-16) curveball in the dirt, scored while Bryce Harper’s hard slide into second allowed LaRoche to beat Dee Gordon’s throw to first. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a two-run homer, giving the Nats two much needed insurance runs and putting the team up 8-5.
Blake Treinen (2-3) pitched two innings to earn the win.
Harper finished the game 3-for-6, continuing to hit the ball hard to all fields. Werth finished 2-for-4 with two walks, and though he didn’t start to give his ailing back a rest, LaRoche finished 2-for-3 with a season high five RBIs. LaRoche’s career high for RBIs in a game is six, and he has driven in five runs on six different occasions.
The two teams combined to use 18 pitchers in the game with the Nats using 10 and the Dodgers eight. With the win, the Nats now lead the NL with 79 wins.
With the Braves beating the Philadelphia Phillies 7-4 earlier in the day, the Nats lead in the East remains seven games.