Will Smith made an immediate impact in his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City, putting together a career game to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers in their 9-3 win over the Washington Nationals.
After the Dodgers fell into a 2-0 deficit and failed to have a baserunner reach against Matt Grace, the Nationals’ opener who made just his second career start, Smith jumpstarted the comeback with an opposite-field home run off Joe Ross.
The homer was the first hit by a Dodgers catcher since June 23, when Smith delivered a walk-off home run against the Colorado Rockies.
Ross’ struggles continued in the fourth inning, as Max Muncy’s RBI single tied the game. Corey Seager followed with a go-ahead double and took third on Adam Eaton’s error at the fence. That proved key as Smith put a charge into Ross’ next pitch for a sacrifice fly that was caught at the wall in center field.
Smith connected on another extra-base hit, with his RBI double extending the Dodgers’ lead to 5-2 in the sixth inning. Then came up to bat with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and cleared them with a double.
He finished the day 3-for-3 with two doubles, one home run and six RBI. Smith became the first Dodgers rookie with at least six RBI in a single game since James Loney had nine on Sept. 28, 2006.
Smith joined Bernie Hungling (April 26, 1922) and Al Lopez (Aug. 13, 1930) as the only Dodgers rookie catchers with six RBI in game, and became the first in L.A. franchise history with as many — breaking Mike Piazza’s record of five (twice done in 1993).
Clayton Kershaw made the run support stand after allowing the Nationals to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. He worked around a leadoff walk in the fourth and stranded a pair of two-out walks in the sixth inning.
Ross’ one-out single in the fifth was the Nationals’ only hit off Kershaw after the opening frame. Kershaw went six innings for the 18th start in as many outings this season.
Joe Kelly surrendered a solo home run before getting through the seventh inning, Caleb Ferguson worked around a walk in the eighth, and JT Chargois finished out the game after Ferguson allowed a leadoff single in the ninth.