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Nationals End Dodgers' Home Streak With 11-9 Win

Nationals' Nick Johnson strokes a two-run double during Washington's six-run eighth.
Nationals' Nick Johnson strokes a two-run double during Washington's six-run eighth. (By Chris Pizzello -- Associated Press)
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By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 8, 2009

LOS ANGELES, May 7 -- The circus benefited nobody, but for those in the visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium -- a trailer-sized compound, sealed away from madcap mayhem of a Manny-less Mannywood. For the Washington Nationals, Manny Ramirez's drug suspension registered not as a seismic news event, but as a lineup change. Hours before the game -- as dozens of cameras and hundreds of reporters snared like a shark's jaw around Los Angeles's Joe Torre and Ned Colletti, sharing a podium behind home plate -- Washington Manager Manny Acta, in his quiet office, studied the downgraded Los Angeles batting order.

A day earlier, the Dodgers had started Ramirez in left field.

This time around, their new left fielder, Juan Pierre, was batting ninth.

"Go write your [Ramirez] story," Acta said, almost winking. "But we'll have a ballgame for you, too."

Did they ever. Perhaps the Nationals, initially, were incidental witnesses to a blindside, but they capitalized on Thursday night's game by subjecting the Dodgers to yet another blindsiding outcome. In a nerve-rattling 11-9 comeback victory against Los Angeles, the Nationals fought against an early six-run deficit with a late-inning comeback that thwarted their opponent's desire to recover and kept the goodwill at Dodger Stadium in the hands of a select few.

For the Nationals, almost every punctuating moment of the night showed resolve. Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann fell into a six-run first inning -- he allowed a grand slam to Matt Kemp that briefly spiked his ERA above 6.00 -- but the rookie fought back, holding Los Angeles scoreless over the next five innings. Washington's lineup, dormant during the first half of the game, awakened in the sixth, then erupted thereafter, ripping the Dodger bullpen for nine runs.

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