Nats positive they can build off competitive series split with Dodgers

LOS ANGELES - After a difficult 1-5 start to their long road trip through Philadelphia and Milwaukee, the Nationals bounced back with a solid series against the first-place Dodgers.

Los Angeles had won 10 straight home games to begin the season before the Nats arrived. Losing 6-0 on Sunday afternoon, the Nationals went 2-2 in the four-game set.

The Nats won the opener 6-0 behind a solid performance from Patrick Corbin and a three-run home from Howie Kendrick.

The Dodgers bounced back to take the second game of the series, 5-0, thanks to two homers from Joc Pederson and a two-run shot by David Freese.

Then Saturday night, the Nats were fueled by a late-inning grand slam by Gerardo Parra to win 5-2.

The Dodgers gained a series split with a convincing 6-0 win Sunday behind a no-hit bid from Hyun-Jin Ryu and a grand slam by Corey Seager.

Second baseman Brian Dozier left Southern California encouraged the Nats can take a lot of positives from these final four games of the road trip.

“We knew, No. 1, that 10-day road trips without off days are pretty tough to begin with,” Dozier said. “Started out the road trip not very well, moved to Milwaukee, not good at all, and then we actually played the Dodgers pretty well, which is a good sign going into the off-day. A much needed off-day for a lot of people. This stretch has been pretty rough, but at the same time we are big leaguers for a reason. Enjoy the off-day tomorrow and regroup on Tuesday.”

Right-hander Stephen Strasburg kept the Nats in the ballgame Sunday, allowing two runs over six innings. But he had to go up against Ryu, who allowed only one hit over eight frames. Nevertheless, Strasburg still sees this team finding a way to get going because of all the talent he sees in the room.

Strasburg-Throws-Gray-Beard-Sidebar.jpg“I don’t see why not,” Strasburg said. “We have all the pieces here, and it’s just about weathering the storm and just holding the helm, per se.”

In the Nats’ two losses this weekend against the Dodgers, respectively, the club was down 2-0 heading into the eighth and 3-0 through six. The skipper believes that is a good step forward after some non-competitive games in Milwaukee.

“We were in every game,” manager Davey Martinez said of the Dodgers series. “I told the boys ‘You got to keep battling, keep battling.’ Adversity is sometimes good for a club. Right now, the boys don’t quit. They’re playing hard. I see signs of these guys starting to play together. Our lineup’s getting better. It’s stretching out a bit because we are getting our guys back. We’re just going to keep grinding, and we go home Tuesday. For me, we just got to start playing better at home, consistently.”

Dozier agreed that for the Nationals to play well against a really good team like the Dodgers, and not just get swept, is a big positive. Heading into the quarter pole of the season, he believes the Nats can get something going as May rolls along. They have three against the Mets and three games against the Cubs this week at Nats Park.

“I think this matchup with L.A. was a much-needed one,” Dozier said. “I know you come away (against) the best team in baseball losing two games, but also won two games and played very well. Really good defense, threw the ball well. So there’s definitely things we can take away from this series which we needed real bad after the Milwaukee one.”

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