Dodgers beat Nationals 7-6 for split of DH
WASHINGTON (AP) — Even Matt Kemp was willing to concede the phantom run the umpires said he scored for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth inning — long before his go-ahead homer in the ninth — should not have counted.
Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson ("They obviously blew the call"), third baseman Ryan Zimmerman ("You can't just give out free runs in the big leagues") and catcher Jesus Flores ("Terrible call") were much more blunt about it.
In a wild game Wednesday, Kemp was ruled safe at home to give Los Angeles a six-run lead even though TV replays clearly showed that Zimmerman's head-over-heels lunging tag already had been applied to runner Adrian Gonzalez at third for the inning's final out. After Washington used a six-run eighth to tie the score, Kemp led off the ninth with a homer off closer Tyler Clippard, and the struggling Dodgers grabbed a 7-6 victory for a doubleheader split that prevented the Nationals from sewing up their first playoff berth since moving from Montreal in 2005.
"It looked pretty close. I actually probably should have been running just forward and not looking back. ... I don't know if I quite made it or not," Kemp said, before asking reporters whether they had seen a replay.
Informed that he should not have scored, Kemp said: "Actually, yeah, I don't think I did. But we got lucky right there. We stole a run."
That extra run really loomed large when the hosts — who had won the opener 3-1 thanks largely to Jordan Zimmermann's six innings of one-run baseball — wound up sending 12 batters to the plate while scoring six runs in the eighth.
"At the time, I don't think anyone thought it was a really big deal, but it turned out to be a big deal," Zimmerman said. "It was 5-0, and they just make it 6-0."
Crew chief Mike Winters declined to comment.
"Calls like that, you never know when they're going to come back and kick you," said Washington's Michael Morse, who delivered a leadoff homer and a two-run single in the eighth.
The announced crowd of 26,931 was getting loud, perhaps anticipating a comeback and playoff-clinching victory, when Kemp drove an 0-2, elevated fastball from Clippard (2-5) over the wall in center for his 19th homer.
"I can't remember ever putting a ball in that spot and getting hurt like that in my whole career," said Clippard, who earned his 32nd save of the season in Game 1. "It's a tough one to swallow, but nothing I can do about it now."
Ronald Belisario (7-1) earned the win by getting the last two outs of the eighth inning. Brandon League picked up his third save with a hitless ninth.
Washington's victory in the opener was Los Angeles' ninth loss in 12 games — and lowered the host's magic number for securing at least a wild-card spot to one. But the Nationals must wait at least another day to be certain of making the playoffs.
"We're not shooting for a playoff spot. We're shooting to win a division," Clippard said. "So regardless if we won tonight or not, that's not really where we want to be."