WASHINGTON — After facing his first batter in the majors, promising pitcher Reynaldo Lopez was bound to get better.
The hyped debut for Lopez got off to a rocky start Tuesday night when Dodgers leadoff man Chase Utley hit the third pitch over the right-center field wall. The Washington Nationals went on to lose to Los Angeles 8-4.
“I am sure it shocked him to have his first big league hitter hit the ball out of the park,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.
Lopez (0-1), considered one of Washington’s top prospects, allowed six runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out nine, featuring a fastball in the upper 90s mph.
“We liked what we saw,” Baker said.
Promoted from Triple-A Syracuse before the game, Lopez struck out at least one batter in every inning, fanned the side in the third and Yasmani Grandal three times.
“I was very excited at first and I felt a little nervous,” Lopez said.
Scott Kazmir (8-3) helped the Dodgers beat Washington for the sixth straight time overall. Los Angeles swept a three-game series from the Nationals at home last month.
The NL East-leading Nationals lost their second in a row following a five-game winning streak. A win by the Miami Marlins cut the Nationals’ lead to 4.5 games in the division, and the New York Mets beating the Chicago Cubs brings them within 5.5 games.
Daniel Murphy doubled twice in his first start since the All-Star break. Murphy, who began the day as the top hitter in the majors, had been slowed by a hamstring injury. He did come in for a pinch-hit game-tying home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in the Nationals’ 18-inning loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After Utley homered, Howie Kendrick’s opposite-field single extended his hitting streak to 11 games and Justin Turner followed with a double. Lopez retired the next two batters before Joc Pederson, activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, hit a two-run single for a 3-0 lead.
Yasiel Puig’s RBI single in the fifth put the Dodgers up 6-0 and ended Lopez’s outing. Grandal later homered.
Kazmir gave up one run and four hits in seven innings, striking out eight. He extended his unbeaten streak to 12 starts, going 6-0 in that span.
Jose Lobaton homered for the Nationals and Trea Turner hit a two-run triple. Turner is now hitting .318/.348/.455 in six games this season, featuring a run, a double, a triple, 2 RBIs, a walk and a stolen base.
Bryce Harper went 0 for 4 with all four of his outs failing to leave the infield. He saw just nine pitches in the game, fewer than any Nationals starter, adding further credence to the theory that he’s become impatient at the plate during his slump.
Cruising into the fifth, Kazmir landed awkwardly due to cramps after jumping to field Danny Espinosa’s groundout. Lobaton then homered.
OUT OF POSITION
Murphy, Washington’s regular second baseman, committed a throwing error in his first start this season at third base with Anthony Rendon (illness) sidelined for a second straight game. With backup infielder Stephen Drew (illness) also unavailable, Baker had few options. “I asked (Murphy) and Trea because those were my two options. Murph said ‘Yeah, I’ll play third base.’ Have to admire Murph for biting the bullet for the kid and for us,” the manager said.
Nationals: RHP Joe Ross (right shoulder inflammation) threw around 35 pitches before Tuesday’s game, Baker said. Barring any setbacks, the right-hander is expected to increase his workload over the weekend in the minors.
Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (5-8, 4.70) is 2-1 with a 1.73 ERA over his last four starts against the Dodgers. Bud Norris (5-7, 4.17) starts for Los Angeles.
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