In light of day, Nats get a split

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY CHELSEA JANES

NA­TION­ALS 5-2, DODGERS 3-4

By the time it was all over Satur­day, by the time 11/ games were fi­nally com­plete

2 and ev­ery­thing was back on sched­ule, the Washington Na­tion­als were nine games over .500 two days af­ter the all-star break, ex­actly where they were when it be­gan.

The sec­ond half of their sea­son be­gan Fri­day night with a 5-3 win over the Los An­ge­les Dodgers that con­cluded Satur­day af­ter­noon. Twenty hours af­ter the game be­gan, pinch hitter Matt den Dekker hit a two-run homer to break an eighth-in­ning tie, his third ca­reer home run.

As Satur­day af­ter­noon turned to Satur­day evening, the mem­ory of den Dekker’s homer faded amid Clay­ton Ker­shaw’s mas­tery in a 4-2 Dodgers win. Ker­shaw sliced through the Na­tion­als lineup with his curve­ball, strik­ing out 14 in eight score­less in­nings, the most strike­outs any pitcher has had against the Na­tion­als since they moved to D.C. in 2005.

Bryce Harper, vic­tim­ized for three of Ker­shaw’s strike-

outs, hit a two-run home run in the ninth— his 27th— to ac­count for the Na­tion­als’ runs af­ter the left-han­der had de­parted.

Sift through the chaos of the first game, de­layed by faulty lights and com­pleted in gleam­ing sun­shine the next day, and the vic­tory re­sem­bled many of the Na­tion­als’ first-half wins: a big hit from an un­ex­pected source in a lineup thick with fill-ins per­form­ing well enough to make the most of a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion.

“That’s tough any time there’s things you can’t re­ally con­trol. Ob­vi­ously you gotta try to stay ready,” den Dekker said. “To get that first win af­ter the all-star break is huge. Took a lit­tle longer than ex­pected, so that’s big for us head­ing to the sec­ond half.”

Den Dekker’s homer broke a 3-3 tie es­tab­lished in the sixth. About 131/ hours af­ter Na­tion­als

2 do-it-all right-han­der Tan­ner Roark first warmed up for the top of the sixth in­ning, he pitched it. He al­lowed a game-ty­ing home run to Adrian Gon­za­lez, the first of two hits he would al­low over two in­nings thrown over two days. He struck out three bat­ters, two Fri­day night, one Satur­day. Gon­za­lez hit two home runs in the game, one Fri­day night, one Satur­day.

Roark pitched a 1-2-3 fifth in­ning Fri­day night. He re­lieved Jor­dan Zim­mer­mann, who only lasted four in­nings and 63 pitches, a solid out­ing cut short by dark­ness when a bank of lights up the third base line went out at 8:19 p.m. and stayed that way for more than an hour. The de­lay was too long for Zim­mer­mann to wait, so the Na­tion­als went to Roark.

“I’ve never seen any­thing like it be­fore,” Zim­mer­mann said Fri­day. “It’s un­for­tu­nate. I felt pretty good tonight, then that hap­pened. It’s just one of those things you can’t ex­plain.”

Af­ter Roark’s score­less fifth in­ning, the lights went out again. Roark waited 40 min­utes, then dou­bled to lead off the fifth and came around to score on Yunel Es­co­bar’s two-run homer. He warmed up for the sixth. Then the lights went out again.

“It’s a humdinger of a game if you win it,” Na­tion­als Man­ager Matt Wil­liams said. “If you don’t, it doesn’t feel as good. It doesn’t get any eas­ier from here cer­tainly with the next two guys we have to face.”

The Na­tion­als opened the sec­ond half by fac­ing right-han­der Mike Bolsinger, then reign­ing Cy Young award win­ner Ker­shaw and All-Star Game starter Zack Greinke. Any big league hitter will tell you that no day spent try­ing to hit ma­jor league pitch­ers is an easy one — but some days are tougher than oth­ers. Ker­shaw made the sec­ond part of Satur­day im­pos­si­ble for the Na­tion­als.

Washington starter Doug Fis­ter needed to be per­fect to match him, but he was not. His pitches again stayed up, and the Dodgers hit many of them hard. Fis­ter al­lowed nine hits and four runs in five in­nings, num­bers kept rel­a­tively low by line drives hit at peo­ple and four fly­balls hit by left­ies that flew to the warn­ing track in right field.

So Ker­shaw worked with a lead, at­tack­ing the zone and strik­ing out two Na­tion­als an in­ning through seven. De­spite the strike­outs, he pitched ef­fi­ciently, plow­ing through the first seven in­nings in fewer than 90 pitches. He re­tired 17 of the last 18 bat­ters he faced and al­lowed three hits.

The Na­tion­als swung and missed 30 times against him, more swings and misses than any pitcher has in­duced in a game in the past seven years.

“Some­times you just gotta tip your cap and laugh,” Harper said. “It was pretty im­pres­sive by him to­day.”

As the two-day marathon was near­ing its end, theNa­tion­als lost Danny Espinosa to in­jury, though for how long re­mains to be seen. He left the game in the eighth in­ning af­ter he dove awk­wardly for a ground­ball and limped off with a trainer.

Ker­shaw gave way to Ken­ley Jansen in the ninth, and D.C. na­tive Em­manuel Burriss, fill­ing in for Espinosa, got his first hit as a mem­ber of his home­town team. Then Harper home­red, a two-run shot to right.

So thanks to a big swing from an un­likely source about 50 min­utes be­fore Satur­day’s regularly sched­uled game, the Na­tion­als moved to 49-39. By the time the Na­tion­als Park lights came on again in the evening sun­light — and all of them came on this time — the Na­tion­als fell to 49-40. They are nine games over .500 thanks toKer­shaw, against whom any amount of light is usu­ally lit­tle help. TheNa­tion­als have not beaten him since 2010.

PHOTOS BY JOHN MCDON­NELL/THE WASHINGTON POST

Matt den Dekker hits a pinch-hit home run in the eighth in­ning to send the Na­tion­als to a 5-3 win in the com­ple­tion of Fri­day night’s game.

Reign­ing NL Cy Young award win­ner Clay­ton Ker­shaw struck out 14 in eight score­less in­nings as the Dodgers won the sec­ond game, 4-2.

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