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By Jon Weisman
If nothing else, it’s been a tough week to be cynical about the Dodgers.
Two days removed from his walkoff walk, Yasmani Grandal hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth, rallying the Dodgers to a 3-2 victory over National League East-leading Washington.
In the Dodgers’ five-game winning streak, this was the fourth time the Dodgers had come from behind, and the third time in the eighth inning.
Grandal didn’t make a winner of Scott Kazmir, but he did make Kazmir’s tightrope walk tonight count.
The good and the bad for Kazmir: He allowed two solo home runs in six innings tonight (to Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa), along with four doubles and two singles. But only the homer-hitters scored.
So in a sense, he deserved worse than a 2-0 loss to the Washington Nationals, and he deserved better. Split the difference, and you have the Dodgers trailing by the slim margin heading into the late innings.
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Defense kept the Dodgers’ close. Second baseman Chase Utley threw out pitcher Tanner Roark trying to go from second to third on an infield grounder in the fifth inning, which ended with a bases-loaded strikeout of Ryan Zimmerman. Dabbling left fielder Howie Kendrick not only made a diving catch, he picked up his second outfield assist of the week and third of the season, throwing out Wilson Ramos trying to score on Roark’s second hit of the game.
Roark, by the way, was 0 for 25 in 2016 until his fifth-inning double.
For seven innings, the Dodger offense could not solve the Washington right-hander, which was disappointing if not surprising — Roark had thrown seven shutout innings four previous times this season. Joc Pederson and Adrian Gonzalez each reached second base on doubles, but advanced no farther.
In the eighth, turning were the tables.
Pederson (2 for 3) drew the Dodgers’ first walk of the night. Yasiel Puig hit a 92 mph single off the glove of shortstop Espinosa. And after fouling off the previous 94 mph, 1-2 fastball, Grandal got all of the next one, smashing the ball 109 mph and 418 feet to center to give the Dodgers the lead.
Honored before tonight’s game for breaking the Dodger career save record, Kenley Jansen tacked on another, pitching a perfect ninth that ended with a Harper grounder to short.
This coming from behind stuff is fun, if you don’t mine suffering throughout most of the game.
oldbrooklynfan….. YES!! Most importantly it sets a tone in the clubhouse that they can overcome adversity when behind late in a game. However, aside from Grandal’s homer, that play by Chase Utely, throwing out the pitcher trying to make it third on a routine groundout was a total thing of beauty… Utely is one of those Kirk Gibson type players that can lift a clubhouse and set a winning tone that can carry a team. I loved the move getting Utley and I pray it will pay off handsomely for them in the crunch.
Grandal was also lucky that a ball that could have been strike 2 was called ball 1 (and then he swung and missed what would have been strike 3 if so), before homering. Baker and Roarke were clearly upset at the call.