Adam Dunn hits two homers as Nationals beat Dodgers, 6-3

By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 7, 2010; 2:15 AM

LOS ANGELES -- The Washington Nationals have many factors, both subtle and obvious, to consider in determining Adam Dunn's future with the franchise. Friday night at Dodgers Stadium, Dunn laid out the most obvious, the one fact that trumps all the others. Simply, he can bash home runs into orbit like few men alive.

The Adam Dunn Show rolled on as the Nationals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-3, before 39,153. Dunn launched two gargantuan, three-run home runs in the first three innings off Clayton Kershaw, who not allowed any team multiple home runs in a game in 23 starts.

Dunn's two bombs and career-high six RBI further validated him as perhaps the hottest slugger in baseball. While John Lannan earned his first win since May 28 and Drew Storen earned his first career save, Dunn became the first National League hitter to reach 30 home runs, a plateau he hit for the seventh straight year that puts him two clear of second place.

The final two months of the season will offer scant meaning in the standings, but Dunn will at least provide a chase of his own. No Nationals player has led the league in one of the three Triple Crown categories since baseball returned to D.C. Dunn's pursuit of the NL home-run crown will provide Washington fans something worthy to follow, not to mention a reason to become intimately familiar with the box scores of Albert Pujols and Joey Votto.

"What he did out there today, that's really some big stuff," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "You're not going to see that too often against Kershaw. Adam, he's just a special guy. It's a special, God-given talent."

Dunn's performance Friday night -- which had Dodgers fans booing the intentional walk reliever Kenley Jansen issued Dunn in the seventh inning -- extended his second-half home run binge. On Wednesday, he smoked two home runs and drove in four runs in Arizona. He has eight home runs in the Nationals' 21 games since the all-star break.

His recent tear and the grind of the season has made it easy to forget Dunn did not hit a home run in his first 25 at-bats this season. He has blasted one per every 12.2 at-bats since. As a career rate, would rank behind only Mark McGwire and Babe Ruth. Since July 7, Dunn has hit a home run once every 7.15 at-bats.

"That's kind of how home runs come for me," Dunn said. "They come in bunches. I'll go three weeks and not hit one. That's just the story of my life."

It will also help his case that he should be paid handsomely, and for several seasons, by any team that wants his services. Dunn will be a free agent this offseason, and both he and the Nationals have expressed their desire for the slugger to remain in Washington. As of the trade deadline, Dunn's asking price was $60 million for four years. If anything, it has only gone up.

In his first at-bat, Dunn came to the plate following Ian Desmond's infield single and Ryan Zimmerman's walk. Kershaw is one of the game's best left-handed pitchers, but Dunn should have felt comfortable against him -- Dunn entered the game 5 for 8 with two doubles and a homer against the 22-year-old. But in fact, he did not.

"He's not one of my top to face, I can tell you that," Dunn said. "I mean, look at his numbers. He's really, really good. And then he's -- I don't even know how old he is. Twelve? Thirteen? He's only going to get better."

Kershaw fed him a 3-2 fastball, and Dunn turned it on with the force of a freight train. On Wednesday, one of Dunn's home runs flew out over the right-field foul pole, and afterward Dunn said he had never done before. This one came close. "I hit the same ball," Dunn said. Dunn again contorted his body to push it fair. The ball hooked inside the pole and smacked off the cement of the upper deck. The ball traveled an estimated 460 feet, and the Nationals led 3-0.

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