Johnson talks blown call, comeback after Nats’ 7-6 loss

When home plate umpire Alan Porter ruled that Matt Kemp had touched home plate before Ryan Zimmerman tagged out Adrian Gonzalez for the final out of the fourth inning, it didn’t seem like a huge deal.

The Nationals were already trailing 5-0 at the time and starter John Lannan had been knocked out of the game. Kemp’s run just added another tally onto what seemed like a lopsided affair.

Turns out, that run ended up playing a major factor in the outcome of today’s game. And Davey Johnson wasn’t too happy with Porter’s call, one which was clearly incorrect, as you can see in this still-shot.

“In my mind, he was already out,” Johnson said. “They obviously blew the call. It wasn’t reviewable. They all discussed it, and evidently nobody was paying attention. But Kemp wasn’t running. He just wasn’t running. The tag play was before. Obviously they missed it, but you’d think when the three of them got together somebody would’ve been paying attention that Kemp was not at home. But they’re not changing it. They had their meeting. And they wouldn’t look at it on video. It’s not a video thing.”

The umpires didn’t rule anything immediately after the play, and then only informed Johnson that they were giving the Dodgers the run after Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly argued that Kemp had beat the tag. Johnson then argued that ruling, saying that Kemp wasn’t anywhere close to the plate when Zimmerman made his acrobatic tag of Gonzalez.

“There’s nothing I can do. I raised a fuss,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘He wasn’t at the plate. You obviously didn’t see it.’ And the umpire chief came over. I said, ‘It’s terrible. You guys missed that. You better look at the replay and see how the three of you missed it.’ I can understand how the third base umpire is looking at the tag, but...

“They’re all huge runs. I’m not out there for my health. I don’t come out unless I feel like I’ve got a legitimate beef.”

Crew chief Mike Winters declined comment on the play following the game.

In the innings after the Kemp run which shouldn’t have been but was, Johnson pulled three of his top hitters, giving Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche a few innings off. When the Nats were pulling off their comeback from six runs down in the eighth inning, those three were seated on the bench.

“With Zim, he had the treatment (on his shoulder) just before the first game,” Johnson said. “And I figured some of that Novocain was wearing off, so I said let’s call it a day. That was a no-brainer. LaRochey, his knee was a little stiff. That’s why he came out. He had it wrapped before his last at-bat. And the Werth deal was just giving him, since he made the last out, leaving Corey (Brown) in the game, give him a break. It also gives, in that kind of game, it gives the other guys, they’ve got a lot of energy. It gives them an opportunity to play.”

Lannan, who went 3-0 in his first three starts with the Nats this season, just didn’t have it today. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings and allowed six runs. Chien-Ming Wang came on to relieve Lannan in the fourth, working 2 1/3 scoreless innings, and Zach Duke followed with two scoreless frames of his own.

“John seemed to be all over the place,” Johnson said. “He was wild a couple innings. It wasn’t one of his better outings.

“I wanted to have an opportunity to see Chien-Ming. I thought he threw the ball well. For not having thrown, I thought he had pretty good sink. He got a lot of groundballs. He had a little more problem with the left-handers. But I liked the way, with the long layoff, the way he threw the ball. It’s also a chance to look at Duke again. And he kept us right in there. The bullpen did a great job.”

Clippard was the sole exception. After the Nats came all the way back to tie the game in the eighth, he served up a go-ahead home run to Matt Kemp leading off the top of the ninth, giving the Dodgers the lead right back.

“He just made a bad pitch to a tough hitter,” Johnson said. “It’s a tough one to lose after you battle back like that. They’re all tough to lose, though.”

There were some negatives today, but the Nats took the first game of the doubleheader, and showed plenty of fight late in the nightcap when it looked like they were out of it.

“I take that there’s no give-up in our ballclub,” Johnson said. “We battled back and tied the game. ... I love the way we kept battling.”

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