Tuesday, May 6, 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) — Anthony Rendon hit a two-run homer in the first inning Monday night, and — thanks to an odd-moving storm that produced an interminable rain delay — the Washington Nationals didn't finish off the Los Angeles Dodgers until some six hours later on Tuesday morning, holding on for a 4-0 victory and gaining sole possession of first place in the NL East.
Jordan Zimmerman pitched four shutout innings before the game was halted, and five relievers threw an inning apiece after play resumed. In between, there was a delay of 3 hours, 17 minutes while a narrow, cigar-shaped storm took its time soaking D.C. and not much else.
Had the game been played in the outer suburbs to the northeast or southwest, everyone would have finished dry and on time.
As it was, Aaron Barrett (2-0) got the win, Zack Greinke (5-1) got a hard-luck first loss of the season, Danny Espinosa added a two-run homer in the eighth, and plate umpire John Tumpane became the MVP for calling strikes and getting the game done in a reasonable hurry once the tarp was removed. There were four strikeouts before the delay, 16 after it.
The rain limited Dodgers starter Greinke to three innings, ending a streak that had been unmatched for a century. He had 18 consecutive regular-season starts of at least five innings while allowing two runs or fewer — the longest such run in the majors since 1914.
Dodgers slugger Yasiel Puig sat out the marathon, still sore after crashing into an outfield wall in the ninth inning of Sunday's 5-4 road loss to the Miami Marlins. Manager Don Mattingly said Puig remained day-to-day and declined to say directly whether a concussion has been ruled out.
Nationals left fielder Nate McLouth had his own crash-into-wall injury in the eighth inning, when he made a sliding backhand catch of a foul ball. Both hands and both knees hit the wall hard, and his right hand was bleeding as he walked off the field.
The Nationals scored early — a rarity for them this season — when Denard Span doubled to left and came home on a drive by Rendon that started out looking like a gapper and carried and carried until it landed in the first row beyond the wall in left-center.
Zimmermann held the fort until the middle of the fourth, when the dozens of bags of sands poured on the infield by the grounds crew were no longer a match for the weather. The fans who stayed behind were treated to a scoreboard broadcast of their city-sports-brethren Washington Wizards winning an NBA playoff game.
Also shown during the delay was the Atlanta Braves' loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, which helped the Nationals vault into first in the division. Maybe 200 fans remained until the end, the ones in blue behind the Dodgers dugout and the red-clad faithful on the Nationals' side. They traded chants and had unusually good odds when it came to chasing a foul ball, or catching a T-shirt tossed into the stands as part of a standard late-game promotion.
NOTES: Greinke had been unbeaten in his previous 13 starts (9-0) vs. NL East teams. ... The Nationals procrastinated about as long as they could in selecting a starting pitcher for Tuesday's game. Manager Matt Williams said he wanted to keep his options open, but the likely candidate is LHP Ross Detwiler, the former starter who has received only sporadic work in the bullpen this season. ... Clayton Kershaw (strained back) is scheduled to come off the disabled list Tuesday and start for the Dodgers. ... Kershaw is expected to take the roster spot held for a day by RHP Pedro Baez, who was recalled Monday from Double-A Chattanooga and made his major league debut in the eighth inning. RHP Stephen Fife, who started Sunday's game, was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. ... Mattingly said LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, who missed Sunday's start with a sore shoulder, did not need an MRI and would resume throwing Tuesday. ... Washington reinstated OF Scott Hairston (strained side muscle) from the 15-day DL and optioned OF Steven Souza Jr. to Triple-A Syracuse. ... Washington C Wilson Ramos (hand) caught nine innings for Double-A Harrisburg on Monday and could rejoin the team later this week.
Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP