Justin Turner delivered for the Los Angeles Dodgers after they missed an opportunity to blow the game open early, as his home run holding as the difference to start their road trip with a 4-2 victory over the Washington Nationals.
Anibal Sanchez allowed three singles to the first four batters faced, with Cody Bellinger’s RBI base hit giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. A walk by Max Muncy loaded the bases, but Sanchez managed to escape the jam.
A.J. Pollock’s swinging bunt on a 3-0 count resulted in a force out at home plate, and Corey Seager rolled a grounder over to the right side to end the inning. Sanchez threw 31 pitches in the first, which although alarming, wound up making little difference.
After Muncy’s walk, he proceeded to retire 20 batters in a row to get through seven innings with just the one run allowed.
That kept the pressure on Hyun-Jin Ryu in his first start against the Nationals since taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium. He retired the first fave batters faced but there wouldn’t be any drama, as Kurt Suzuki and Brian Dozier combined for back-to-back singles with two outs in the second inning.
Ryu faced more trouble in the fourth when Pollock couldn’t chase down Anthony Rendon’s drive to the right-center field gap. The leadoff double was followed by a walk, though both runners were stranded as Ryu set down the next three batters.
His defense provided some help in the sixth inning, starting with Alex Verudgo laying out for a diving catch down the left-field line. Justin Turner was then perfectly shaded toward the line to snare a line drive.
The two plays loomed particularly large, considering Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick followed with a base hit each. Ryu preserved the Dodgers’ 1-0 lead by getting Suzuki to ground out.
The Nationals threatened again in the seventh inning by loading the bases with nobody out. Adam Eaton’s one-out flare on the 11th pitch he saw cleared Seager’s leaping attempt and landed for a game-tying RBI single but also resulted in Gerardo Parra being thrown out at home by Verdugo.
Turner’s three-run home run off Kyle Barraclough broke the tie in the eighth inning, though it was Joc Pederson’s two-out walk that sparked the rally. The walk against Tony Sipp was Pederson’s first against a lefty this season. It was followed by Verdugo’s base hit, which prompted the Nationals pitching change.
Kenley Jansen twice had the Nationals down to their final strike, only to allow a single and hit a batter. Rendon walked to load the bases and a second walk in the inning brought a run in before Jansen could escape the jam to convert the save.