After falling just short in a three-game series between two of baseball's best teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers will return home Monday to face the Washington Nationals in the opener of a three-game series and a six-game homestand.
The Dodgers dropped an 11-10 decision Sunday against the Tampa BayRays in St. Petersburg, Fla., losing for the second time in a three-game series against the majors' top team. The lone Los Angeles victory in the series was a tight 6-5 triumph on Saturday, and the Dodgers went 4-6 on a season-high, 10-game trip that included stops in St. Louis and Atlanta.
The Dodgers won only one series on the trip, when they took two of three games from the Braves to briefly claim the top record in the National League. However, Atlanta moved back on top after Los Angeles' issues in Tampa Bay, as the Dodgers' starting pitchers strugled.
"It feels like we played a lot better than 4-6 in my opinion," said the Dodgers' Freddie Freeman, who had two hits and a run on Sunday. "A lot of games that could have been lost a whole lot of different ways, and we came back and kept fighting and fighting. Longest trip of the year. It's over. I just like the fact we kept grinding every single game this whole road trip."
The offense certainly needed to grind along. After Dodgers right-hander Noah Syndergaard gave up six runs in six innings to the Rays on Friday, left-hander Clayton Kershaw gave up four runs in five innings on Saturday. Then came the seven runs in two innings allowed by rookie right-hander Gavin Stone in the finale.
The Dodgers continue to muddle along without left-hander Julio Urias (hamstring) and right-hander Dustin May (forearm), while right-hander Walker Buehler still is working his way back after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery last August.
The Dodgers have a 4.44 ERA from their starting staff, which ranks 16th in baseball. They had a major-league-best 2.75 ERA from their starters last season.
Next up in an attempt to improve on those numbers is another rookie, right-hander Bobby Miller (1-0, 1.80 ERA). The 24-year-old made his major league debut on Tuesday at Atlanta and gave up one run on four hits over five innings en route to an 8-1 win.
The Nationals will counter with right-hander Trevor Williams (2-2, 4.32 ERA). He is coming off a 5-3 win against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday when he gave up three runs on three hits over 5 2/3 innings with a season-high three walks.
In six career appearances against the Dodgers (five starts), Williams is 0-1 with a 5.67 ERA.
The Nationals lost 3-2 to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday but won the three-game road series and have taken two of their past three series. However, they are just 5-7 dating back to May 16, getting swept in a three-game series by the Miami Marlins in that stretch.
"We left 11 guys on base (on Sunday)," said Nationals manager Dave Martinez, whose team went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. "We had opportunities and we just couldn't capitalize. We've been swinging the bat well. (Michael) Chavis had a really good day. (Ildemaro) Vargas drove in a big run for us. We just left a lot of guys on base."
The Nationals played their own scoreboard-busting game Friday when they earned a 12-10 victory over the Royals with an eight-run sixth inning and six hits from Luis Garcia.
--Field Level Media