Nick Johnson hit two home runs -- so much for his slump -- and
Alfonso Soriano's bid to be an All-Star outfielder got another
boost with his 18th homer. A five-run third inning blew the game
open in Sunday's 10-4 victory, capping a 7-3 stand that proved a
remarkable turnaround from the Nationals' previous 3-10 record at
"We're starting to play some good baseball," Washington
manager Frank Robinson said. "It's good to start putting it
"They're clicking along pretty good right now," said Los
Angeles manager Grady Little, who had the hottest team in the
National League before dropping a pair of 10-4 decisions in the
nation's capital in three games. "They're swinging the bat,
they're getting good plate appearances from each and every guy that
goes up there, and that's why they're able to put together a streak
Johnson was in an 0-for-16 slump until a few days ago, when he
realized he was thinking too much and not bending his legs enough.
He has since reached base in 12 of 18 plate appearances and hit
solo homers in the sixth and eighth innings Sunday, his third
multihomer game this season.
"I watch a lot of film," said Johnson, who has 12 homers this
season. "I just get down on my legs a little more and stop
thinking about the other stuff and have better at-bats."
Soriano walked and scored in the first and hit his 18th home run
in the fourth. His 11 homers this month ties the franchise record
for the month of May, and the four-time All-Star second baseman is
now fielding questions about making it in the outfield, a position
he is still learning.
"I have the numbers," said Soriano, who is batting .301. "But
second base is not like outfield. At second base, not too many
people have big numbers."
Pitching had been the Dodgers' strength during their recent hot
streak, but the Nationals battered Brett Tomko on Friday and Jae
Seo on Sunday into their shortest outings of the season. Seo (2-3)
lasted 2 2-3 innings, allowing seven hits and six runs, and Los
Angeles' streak of six straight series wins came to an end.
"I tried to keep it low today, but then the control didn't
work," said Seo, who threw 35 strikes and 24 balls. "I'm not a
fastball pitcher, so every time I give up five or six runs my
control has been a problem."
The big inning was the third. Zimmerman's eight home run was a
three-run shot, and Anderson's triple was followed by Brian
Schneider's sacrifice fly. Marlon Byrd doubled and scored on Mike
Vento's first major league hit.
Because of injuries, the Dodgers fielded a starting lineup with
four rookies: second baseman Willy Aybar, center fielder Matt Kemp,
left fielder Andre Ethier and catcher Russell Martin. Kemp, making
his major league debut after a call-up from Double-A, struck out
three times before getting a single in his last at-bat.
Absent were J.D. Drew and Jeff Kent. Drew missed his second game
with a sore shoulder, and Kent sat out with a sprained left wrist.
Also, Kenny Lofton was given a day off from the starting lineup to
rest his hamstrings, although he walked and scored as a pinch
hitter in the eighth.
Ortiz (3-4), meanwhile, is back to form after going 0-4 over his
first seven starts. A bloop double off left fielder Soriano's glove
was the Dodgers' only hit until the sixth, when Olmedo Saenz capped
a three-run inning with his fifth home run.
"This was a nice homestand," Robinson said. "But we still
have to carry it over. We have to dig, dig to get ourselves out of
the hole we're in. We're up to what? Nine games under? So have to
continue to do it over and over. We're starting to win series now.
If we continue to do that for the next month, we'll be in good
Nationals reliever Jon Rauch hit two batters in the eighth,
including one with the bases loaded. ... Soriano's 11 homers in May
ties the team record set by Henry Rodriguez in 1996. ... Dodgers 1B
Nomar Garciaparra got another hit with a man on second, raising his
average with runners in scoring position to .447. ... Washington 2B
Jose Vidro was given the day off. ... Nationals INF Matt LeCroy
received a cortisone shot for his sore right elbow and is day to