Mookie Betts contributed with the bat and arm, but Garrett Cleavinger couldn’t protect a lead as the Washington Nationals pulled away late to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 8-3, handing them a second consecutive loss.
After the Nationals took a 2-0 lead on Mitch White, Betts led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run. It marked the 34th leadoff homer of his career, and fifth this season.
Thanks in part to not only Betts’ home run but his defensive ability as well, the Dodgers’ deficit remained 2-1 until the fifth inning.
Luis García tripled with one out in the fourth inning but elected not to challenge Betts on a fly ball to right field. White then wound up striking out Lane Thomas to end the inning.
In the fifth, Victor Robles led off with a single and stole second base. He then attempted to score on Josh Bell’s two-out single to right field, but Betts threw a strike to home plate for his sixth outfield assist of the season.
That wound up giving the Dodgers some momentum as Cody Bellinger sent Josiah Gray’s first pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning down the line for a game-tying home run. In his two starts against the Dodgers this season, Gray has allowed five home runs over just eight innings.
Singles by Trayce Thompson and Trea Turner then set the table for Freddie Freeman’s sacrifice fly that gave the Dodgers a lead.
Prior to the Nationals pulling away, the Dodgers had an opportunity in the bottom of the eighth inning but Max Muncy and Gavin Lux each stranded two baserunners.
Dodgers bullpen stumbles
After White held the Nationals to just two runs over six innings, the Dodgers bullpen failed to protect the slim lead.
Yency Almonte worked a scoreless seventh inning, but García hit a go-ahead two-run home run off Garrett Cleavinger with two outs in the eighth. Cleavinger was recalled Tuesday as a corresponding move to Reyes Moronta getting optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
That Cleavinger was tasked with the high-leverage appearance stemmed from the Dodgers being in the midst of playing 18 consecutive games without an off day. And although his pitch up in the zone was punished, a Lux throwing error on a routine grounder to begin the inning loomed large.
The Nationals added a sacrifice fly and two-run double off Cleavinger in the ninth inning, and Phil Bickford allowed an inherited runner to score before managing to get the third out.
Are you following Dodger Blue on Instagram? It’s the best way to see exclusive coverage from games and events, get your questions answered, and more!