The Dodgers find Nats annoying. LA drops second in a row to last place… | by Cary Osborne | Jul 2022

Mookie Betts started the game with a solo homer. (Josh Barber/Los Angeles Dodgers)

by Cary Osborne

The biggest oddity for the team with the best National League record is what it did against the teams with the worst and third-worst records in the league.

The Dodgers lost to the Nationals, the team with the worst record in the major leagues, for the second night in a row – this time an 8–3 loss.

The Dodgers are now 2–3 on the season against Washington. Add to that their 1-5 record against a Pittsburgh team that is 18 games under .500.

“We had chances to break through and set up a round and get twisted numbers; we didn’t,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But against teams below .500, I wish I had the answer.”

The Dodgers had a 3–2 lead heading into the eighth inning and looked to Garrett Cleavinger in relief the day he was called up from Oklahoma City’s Triple-A.

Gavin Lux made a pitching error after fielding a Josh Bell grounder to start the inning, but Cleavinger was one strike away from coming out of the inning unscathed. Washington shortstop Luis García, however, fired a slider into the seats past the short wall into right field for a two-run homer.

Cleavinger allowed four earned runs in the top of the ninth inning, and Washington’s lead increased to 8–3.

The Dodgers were trying to stay clear of relievers David Price, Alex Vesia and Evan Phillips outside the bullpen.

They got six innings from Mitch White, the longest start of his career.

White threw an all-night obstacle course with baserunners every inning, starting with the first inning in which he allowed two runs. The right-hander allowed nine hits but didn’t step on anyone and scored zeros on the scoreboard in his last five frames.

“Today was a good example of being able to adapt as you go,” said White. “I leaned on the change a bit early and the rotation wasn’t there, then once I understood the rotation a little better I went to the slider later in the game and leaned on these.”

With Andrew Heaney returning after five weeks on the injured list to start Wednesday in the series finale, it gives the Dodgers uncertainty about White’s role in the starting rotation. Roberts said it was something being discussed.

In July, White allowed two or fewer earned runs with at least five innings pitched in three of his four starts.

Before Washington’s late offensive explosion, it was the spectacle of Mookie Betts, the right fielder hitting a first home run in the first inning and preventing two runs on defense.

In the fourth inning, Washington failed to test Betts on a fly ball and runner at third base. The next inning the Nationals did it and Betts kicked Victor Robles home trying to score on a Bell single.

It’s the second time this season that Betts has had an assist and a home run in the same game and his fourth time as a Dodger. The previous time was May 21 against Philadelphia

It’s also the second time this season that Betts has had back-to-back games with assists. The previous time was May 9 and 10 against Pittsburgh.

The Dodgers scored two in the fifth with a solo home run from Cody Bellinger and the sacrificed RBI from Freddie Freeman. They were leading 3-2 at the time.