For a second consecutive game, the Washington Nationals welcomed back another member of their starting rotation. This time, Patrick Corbin took his first turn of the season, with the daunting assignment of keeping at bay the most feared lineup in the majors.

The left-hander lasted 4⅓ innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night, and he struck out the side in the fourth at Dodger Stadium. But his five strikeouts just about covered the extent of the good news for Corbin in the beginning of what the Nationals are hoping will be a revival following a statistical downturn in 2020.

A five-run second inning by the reigning World Series champions doomed Corbin and the Nationals, who got star slugger Juan Soto’s first two homers of the season but dropped their fourth game in a row, 9-5, and are assured of departing Los Angeles on the short end of the series.

“For the situation and everything that we had to deal with, I feel all right,” said Corbin, whose preparation included a simulated game Wednesday at the Nationals’ alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va. “I’m just hoping to move on from this, get on a normal schedule here and be ready to get back out there in five days and be ready to go.”

Corbin yielded six earned runs on six hits and three walks after being among nine Nationals who started the season on the covid-19 injured list because they tested positive for the coronavirus or came into close contact with someone who had. After clearing virus protocols, Corbin boarded a charter flight to Los Angeles on Friday.

Accompanying Corbin on the trip were catchers Yan Gomes and Alex Avila, infielder Jordy Mercer and reliever Brad Hand, all of whom also were reinstated from the covid-19 injured list, moving the Nationals (1-4) closer to a complete roster. Still missing are first baseman Josh Bell, outfielder Kyle Schwarber, utility man Josh Harrison and left-hander Jon Lester.

Gomes and Mercer made their season debuts Saturday in the second game of the three-game series. Mercer, starting at second base, went 3 for 4 in his first game with the Nationals. Gomes added two hits and an RBI.

Gomes’s return was particularly timely for Corbin; that battery worked together for the 47th time, the most in the big leagues since 2019.

But Gomes, along with several teammates and pitching coach Jim Hickey, paid a far-too-early visit to the mound when Corbin walked the first three batters in the second inning. Corbin got the next batter, Gavin Lux, to ground to third baseman Starlin Castro, who threw home for a force out. But the favorable bounces ended there for Corbin against a lineup that remains stacked even without ailing stars Mookie Betts (lower back stiffness) and Cody Bellinger (sore calf).

Zach McKinstry singled to right, driving in Max Muncy and AJ Pollock to put the Dodgers ahead 2-1. Chris Taylor followed two batters later with a towering homer to left, and the Nationals trailed by four.

Justin Turner doubled home another run in the fifth to make it 6-1, ending Corbin’s night.

“Obviously a hiccup in the second inning, but you saw that he settled in," Gomes said of Corbin. "He started keeping guys off-balance. It wasn’t one of those things where one pitch beat us or hurt us. It was good to see him settle in. He definitely got stronger as the game went on, which is definitely a positive sign.”

The Nationals chased Dodgers starter Julio Urías in the sixth after the left-hander gave up two runs, including Soto’s stinging solo homer to right. Gomes singled to score Ryan Zimmerman to trim the deficit to 6-3, but pinch hitter Andrew Stevenson struck out with the bases loaded against reliever Jimmy Nelson to end the threat.

Washington wound up stranding nine runners one night after it left seven on base in a 1-0 loss to Los Angeles (7-2) that featured Joe Ross making his first start in 530 days. The right-hander tossed five scoreless innings, permitting a pair of hits and two walks on 67 pitches.

The plan for Corbin was to throw at most five innings and roughly 75 pitches, Manager Dave Martinez had said. Corbin ended up throwing 80 pitches, 48 for strikes, and added a single for one of Washington’s season-high 15 hits.

The second-to-last of those came on Soto’s second homer, lined over the right field fence in the ninth inning.

With Corbin’s return to the roster, the Nationals optioned reliever Kyle McGowin to their taxi squad and returned infielder Adrián Sanchez to their alternate site in Fredericksburg.

“I thought he threw the ball well,” Martinez said of Corbin. “I mean he had one rough inning with the walks, but the ball is coming out. Right now the big thing is we have to try to get him stretched out, but he went five innings, threw 80 pitches. I feel good about it.”

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