LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Washington Nationals were on their way to their first one-run victory since July 6, when hard-throwing reliever Henry Rodriguez got a little too far behind one of his heavy fastballs and threw it to the backstop with Rafael Furcal at the plate and a runner at third base.
The wild pitch in the seventh inning enabled the Los Angeles Dodgers to tie the score, and Furcal hit an RBI double with one out in the ninth to sent the Nationals to a 7-6 loss on Saturday night.
Trailing 6-5, Los Angeles loaded the bases in the sixth. But James Loney grounded out against Rodriguez, who had given up a single to Matt Kemp and a walk to Juan Rivera after following Ross Detwiler out of the bullpen.
The Dodgers got another chance in the seventh, however. Dioner Navarro drew a one-out walk before pinch-runner Eugenio Velez stole second and took third on a hit-and-run comebacker to Rodriguez. The 24-year-old right-hander then fell behind Furcal 3-0 before walking him with a pitch that sailed over Wilson Ramos' head, allowing Velez to score.
Rodriguez has a team-high nine wild pitches in 35 2-3 innings, two more than he had last season with Oakland in just 27 2-3 innings. His fastball has been clocked in triple digits, and harnessing all that power can be a problem for a young pitcher.
``He's a young guy who throws real hard, and he has a tendency to want to let everything go. But that's part of the package with a guy like that,' Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty said. ``You just talk to him about slowing everything down in his head, focusing on what he's doing and trusting himself to make pitches. You have to convince him that 98 and 97 is still pretty good, and that he just has to throw strikes. It's a work in progress.'
Rod Barajas led off the ninth with a single against Ryan Mattheus (2-2) and was forced at second when Ramos jumped on Trent Oeltjen's attempted sacrifice bunt and made a one-hop throw that shortstop Ian Desmond dug out of the dirt with his foot on the bag. But Jamey Carroll singled and Furcal drove a 2-0 to the gap in left-center to bring home Oeltjen.
``That was awesome,' Oeltjen said. ``Furky came through big at the end. He's been unlucky with some injuries this year, so it's huge for him and huge for this team to get us going. I hope we can take off from here and keep it going.'
Dodgers rookie closer Javy Guerra (2-0) pitched one inning for the victory, helping send the Nationals to their seventh straight loss in one-run decisions after winning 12 of their previous 14 under those circumstances.
``We're just kind of spinning our wheels a little bit right now,' right fielder Jayson Werth said. ``We're playing good baseball, but we're just on the wrong side of things. Every night we feel like we're going to score a bunch of runs. We're just one swing away.'
Washington starter Tom Gorzelanny threw 66 pitches over three innings in his second-shortest outing this season, after pitching only two innings last Sunday in Atlanta and tweaking his right ankle in a collision with Braves catcher Brian McCann. The Dodgers got five runs and eight hits against the left-hander, who departed with a one-run lead.
``I don't think there were any effects at all from the ankle,' McCatty said. ``When he warmed up in the bullpen, his ankle was fine and there were no problems. It's just that his ball was up.'
Dodgers lefty Ted Lilly gave up six runs and eight hits in five innings, and is 1-5 with a 7.47 ERA over his last seven outings. He struck out six and did not allow a homer for the first time in his last six outings.
The Nationals staked Gorzelanny to a 6-2 lead with three runs in the first inning and three more in the third. But the Dodgers got three in the bottom of the third, as Loney hit a sacrifice fly and Lilly hit a two-run double with two outs after an intentional walk to Navarro.
``Fortunately I was able to help with the bat, because I put us in a big hole,' Lilly said. ``We were able to come back, in large part due to the work the bullpen did. Then obviously we got some clutch hits as the game went on.'
Washington scored its first three runs when Werth followed an RBI double by Michael Morse with a two-run double. After the Dodgers chipped away with runs in the first two innings, the Nats came back in the third as Rick Ankiel doubled home a pair and scored on a hit-and-run infield single.
``We had a pretty standard approach against Lilly,' Werth said. ``We've seen him a lot before, so you know what you're getting yourself into, and we jumped out ahead. But they kept battling back all game, and our inability to tack on runs after the third was the difference. When you don't score any more runs, it's tough to win ballgames like that.'
Notes: Saturday marked what would have been the 75th birthday of Hall of Fame pitcher and former Dodgers broadcaster Don Drysdale. The Dodgers were in Montreal, the Nationals' former home, to play the Expos on July 3, 2003, when Drysdale was found dead in his hotel room at age 56 after suffering a heart attack. Ann Meyers-Drysdale was on hand Saturday with their sons, D.J. and Darren, each of whom threw out a ceremonial first pitch. The Dodgers' grounds crew painted Drysdale's No. 53 on the back slope of the mound. ... Dave Van Horne, who did play-by-play for the Expos during their first 32 seasons, was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday in a ceremony at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, N.Y. It was the first time that the winner of the annual Ford C. Frick Award was enshrined the day before the players were.
The Associated Press News Service
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