On a hot, muggy, sellout crowd night at Nationals Park, the Nats offense was once again incompetent behind strong Nats pitching. Gio Gonzalez struck out a career high 11 Dodgers on 98 pitches in six innings, but the bats were completely impotent with runners on base. With the loss, the Nats moved to a game below. 500 on a day when they could've made up ground on both the Braves and Phillies. Instead, they made what may have already been an insurmountable deficit even more difficult to overcome.
The Nats offense tried, and hard, to get on the board in the first few innings, but their inability to get anything going offensively showed in a big way. Through the first three innings, they stranded runners in scoring position in every inning, including a bases loaded opportunity in the first with just one out. They went 0-for-6 with RISP in the first three innings alone. Meanwhile, Gio Gonzalez pitched a gem, especially early. He struck out six through four innings and surrendered just two hits and two walks.
The Nats got another leadoff hit from Chad Tracy in the fourth, but Ramos, Gonzalez, and Span all hit into fielder's choices, so the Nats, once again, got nothing. And through four, they had 13 chances with runners on bases and failed to score a single one. But Gio was doing his part. Through the top of the fifth, Gio had nine strikeouts, including two against young stud Yasiel Puig. He just needed his offense to wake up for some run support.
The game got down to the pitcher's spot in the sixth, so Davey hit for Gio Gonzalez, ending his 11 strikeout, four hit, no run performance. Roger Bernadina came in and hit an RBI single to right field that scored Chad Tracy, giving the Nats a narrow 1-0 lead heading into the seventh.
Drew Storen came into the game for the Nats and showed his, and the bullpen's, inconsistency so far this year. He shut down the first two batters before giving up a double to pinch hitter Skip Schumaker and an RBI single to Mark Ellis to tie the game. The boos rained down from the stands to show displeasure for Storen's performance.
Once again in the seventh inning, the Nats got runners on base and tried to threaten. They had two runners on with just one out for Bryce Harper, who struck out before Jayson Werth grounded into a fielder's choice to shortstop to end yet another scoring opportunity.
Tyler Clippard continued to have success in the eighth inning as he was able to shut down the Dodgers despite a Ryan Zimmerman error on what should have been the third out of the inning. Ian Desmond helped the Nats answer in the bottom half of the inning on a single to right, which was immediately followed by a stolen base. Tracy moved him to third on a grounder to the second baseman with just one out. Ramos walked on five pitches, which set up a pitch hitting opportunity for Scott Hairston. Hairston struck out, Span flew out, and the Nats stranded another couple base runners.
Rafael Soriano made things tough for himself in the ninth, and then Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, and Bryce Harper were retired in order in the ninth to force extra innings. Craig Stammen entered the game for the 10th, and Adrian Gonzalez and Hanely Ramirez put together back-to-back doubles to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead before an out was recorded. Andre Either drove Hanley in from third on a sacrifice fly, giving the Dodgers the 3-1 lead.
By the bottom of the 10th, well more than half of the 41,816 fan crowd had left the park. They missed Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond being called out looking at strike three, followed by a Werth ejection for yelling from the dugout, and a Chad Tracy groundout to first base to end the game.
I'm simply not convinced there is a solution to resolve the Nats struggles this season.