The procession of marooned runners allowed the Dodgers to squeak into extra innings. In the 10th, Manager Davey Johnson tabbed Stammen to hold the score at 1-1. Adrian Gonzalez laced a hanging curveball down the third base line for a leadoff double, and Hanley Ramirez smashed a hanging slider to the left-center gap for another double to score the go-ahead run.
“We just got to put the blinders on, put up a brick wall and move past it,” Stammen said.
The Nationals have played 97 games and lost more than they have won. They have held together — “I think a lot of teams under the situation that we’re in would probably be a little more distressed inside the clubhouse than we’ve been,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. But they are also in third place and seven games out of first, and soon the season’s first four months will have expired.
“I’m not going to sit here and say we’re playing as good as we should be,” Desmond said. “I’m also not going to sit here and say this is the end of the road. I don’t know what else to say other than it’s going to be fine. We’re going to get better and be the players that we know we are. Sometimes, you got to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘Are you doing what you’re supposed to be doing?’ ”
The Nationals loaded the bases Saturday night in the first inning and came away with nothing. It set an apt tone. In five of the first eight innings, the Nationals either placed at least two runners on base with one out or put a runner in scoring position with no outs. They produced no runs in all five of those innings.
In their past nine games, the Nationals have gone 6 for 66 with runners in scoring position, including 1 for 12 Saturday night. Johnson said hitting coach Rick Eckstein is blameless, calling him “the best instructor I’ve been around.” He seemed at a loss to explain.
“I don’t know,” Johnson said. “I mean, at times we’re putting good at-bats up there. I don’t know.”
Some Nationals put themselves in good counts then grew too selective. Other hitters expanded the strike zone and let Zack Greinke escape with a ball. Some strayed from their typical approach. Some simply hit into bad luck.
“In RBI situations, we don’t get any hits,” catcher Wilson Ramos said. “Maybe everybody wants to get those RBI. Maybe a little bit of pressure. We have to concentrate more on those situations and try to get base hits, not looking for homers.”