Originally written on The Nats Blog  |  Last updated 7/19/13
In a loss as disappointing as any of their letdowns in the first half of the season, the Washington Nationals (48-48) were unable to start their second half push with the bang they would have liked, as they fell, 3-2, to the Los Angeles Dodgers (48-47). With the loss, they dropped to third place in the National League East for the first time since June 7, and padded the Atlanta Braves’ seven-game lead over them. Stephen Strasburg had a good night, throwing seven innings on 104 pitches, giving up seven hits and two runs on a Hanley Ramirez home run in the third inning. But, his usual struggle with lack of run support again plagued his outing, and he left with a no decision. “Stras pitched a heck of a ball game,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He pitched good enough for us to win.” But as has happened too many times before – as evidenced by his contrasting 5-7 record and 2.99 ERA – the Nats bats didn’t come through for him, leaving six men on base and going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The Nationals weren’t fooled by Dodgers starter Ricky Nolasco, who had held them to a .238 batting average before Friday night, but they struggled to score runs off him. Through five and one-thirds innings Nolasco gave up eight hits and two walks, but the Nationals only brought two runs around to score. The Nats struck first in the second inning when Bryce Harper, who has absolutely owned Nolasco this year (7-for-9, 4 XBH), led off with a double. When Jayson Werth lined out to right field, Harper decided to test the arm of Yasiel Puig, who threw a bullet to third base in time to get Harper out, but he was ruled safe. The lucky break paid off almost immediately for the Nationals when Nolasco threw a wild pitch to Ian Desmond, allowing Harper to score. Harper got to Nolasco again in the fourth inning, when he followed a Ryan Zimmerman single with a single of his own, and Werth walked to load the bases with no outs. But then the Nationals turned a rally opportunity into a typical, offense-sapped debacle. Desmond, Chad Tracy and Wilson Ramos all either grounded out or flew out rather pathetically to end the inning and highlight the reason the Nationals are struggling to keep hold of second place in the NL East, rather than biting at the Braves’ heels. Tracy led the non-stars on Friday, going 0-for-4 and adding an out to a potentially big inning three times. He grounded into a double play in the sixth inning to kill what could have been a go-ahead rally. Tracy lowered his batting average to .149, and prompted some to start questioning whether the Nationals will seek another bat off the bench at the trade deadline. These are the types of questions the Nationals will need to find answers to quickly, as the clock ticks steadily towards October. The final insurmountable obstacle for the Nationals came in the top of the ninth inning when closer Rafael Soriano came in to freeze the 2-2 ballgame in a tie. Instead, he was charged with the loss as Andre Ethier golfed his sixth home run of the year into the centerfield seats. “That was frustrating,” a weary-looking Johnson said after the game. “It leaves a tough taste in your mouth. … Maybe we’ll break out against a couple pretty good pitchers. Maybe that’s what we need. … Tomorrow’s another day.” That’s an optimistic outlook against the likes of Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, but with baseball, each team is guaranteed another chance tomorrow. Until they run out of chances.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Miguel Cabrera headed to disabled list for 1st time in career

Report: San Antonio Spurs to sign LaMarcus Aldridge

WATCH: Serena Williams wags finger at Wimbledon crowd, says, 'Don’t try me'

Report: Rajon Rondo headed to Sacramento Kings

Dez Bryant deal with Cowboys could be announced Monday

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brandon Saad, Ryan O’Reilly sign long-term contracts with Columbus, Buffalo

Mavs solidify future, sign Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan

A-Rod, Yankees settle dispute over home run milestone bonus

Report: Robin Lopez, Knicks finalizing four-year deal

Becky Hammon will coach Spurs' Summer League team

Jimmy Butler on Derrick Rose: ‘I don’t think we have any issues’

Clay Buchholz not worried about trade rumors

All hope isn't completely lost for this year's Milwaukee Brewers

Report: Pacers, Lakers Discussing Roy Hibbert Trade

Watch: Pablo Sandoval falls over railing during catch

Report: Green Bay Packers’ player charged with firing a gun in Miami

Kawhi, LaMarcus, the mid-range and the Spurs' next epoch

Tennis: How can Rafael Nadal regain his dominance?

NBA Rumors: Cavs and Spurs vying for David West

Damian Lillard is the Blazers’ new franchise player

Bryce Harper flaunts patriotic bat, hits home run

Report: Magic will sign Tobias Harris to 4-year deal

The top American sports moments since the last Fourth of July

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.