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Guzmán's Cycle Caps Nats' Sweep

Los Angeles Dodgers' Manny Ramirez hits a two-run home run off Washington Nationals pitcher John Lannan during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008, in Washington. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
Los Angeles Dodgers' Manny Ramirez hits a two-run home run off Washington Nationals pitcher John Lannan during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008, in Washington. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez) (Luis Alvarez - AP)

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"As soon as I hit the ball," he said, "I knew I was going to third."

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He slid in just before the shortstop received a relay from center field. The Dodgers never even bothered with the throw.

After the game, Guzmán rushed through the clubhouse with a wide smile. "I'm still sweating," he said. He rushed out near the stadium entrance; friends wanted to see him, he said. For several minutes, he received a go-round of handshakes and hugs.

"It was nice for him to get it," Manager Manny Acta said.

It was nice, because it iced what Washington had already constructed. Lannan had opened the game by unveiling just about every telltale sign for a losing start. He allowed four batters in a row to reach in the first. Sixteen pitches into the game, pitching coach Randy St. Claire had already trotted out to the mound for counsel. Manny Ramírez, the Dodgers' dreaded, dread-locked slugger, had already sizzled a ball into the visitors' bullpen, a two-run blast. Lannan, to be sure, hadn't even thrown a bad pitch. Just so happened that Ramírez picked yet another moment to hit a low-and-away breaking ball in a way that hitters with 517 career homers can sometimes do.

If Ramírez offered the punch, Washington's entire lineup responded with the counterpunch. In the bottom of the first, the Nationals scored five runs -- or five more than they scored the previous time against Clayton Kershaw, on July 27. Guzmán flicked his sixth home run of the year to left field, cutting Los Angeles's lead in half.

Washington kept hitting, until there was no more lead to cut. Ryan Zimmerman doubled. Lastings Milledge walked. A Ronnie Belliard single to left -- the third hard-hit ball of the inning -- scored a sliding Zimmerman. Then, Dukes, in his second game back from the disabled list, ripped a Kershaw fastball over the opposite field fence. Washington had a 5-2 lead, and though it didn't need to grow, it would, receiving an exclamation point along the way.


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