WASHINGTON — In a game long overdue for a clutch hit, along came Hanley Ramirez with a man on second and none out in the 10th inning.
Ramirez already had two singles, but the other team pitched to him anyway. He raised his average to .390 and essentially won the game with an RBI double, the kind of clutch hit the Los Angeles Dodgers have been getting lately — and the sort of thing that has totally deserted the Washington Nationals.
Ramirez drove in Adrian Gonzalez, then scored on Andre Ethier’s sacrifice fly in Saturday night’s 3-1 win. Among the teammates congratulating Ramirez in the dugout was starter Zack Greinke, who wondered why the Nationals bothered to throw the Dodgers cleanup hitter a strike.
“He said: ‘Even me, I would have walked you,’” Ramirez said.
As it turned out, Ramirez and Greinke — who raised his average to.406 — combined for half the Dodgers’ 10 hits, but everything seems to be going right for a team that has won seven of nine and 19 of 24 to pull within a half-game of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.
“We’re winning all kinds of different ways as the momentum has started to go our way,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We lost of lot of these early in the year, but now it seems like we’re hanging in there, feeling like we’re going to win these.”
Ethier won Friday’s game with a ninth-inning homer, and the first two games of the series yielded outcomes that kept the teams trending in opposite directions. The Nationals have lost seven of nine to fall below .500 and into third in the NL East. They went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position and are 2 for 21 with RISP in the series.
“I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing it, but it’s got to turn around at some point,” Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond said. “And if it doesn’t, then we’re going to keep on trying until we run out of time.”
In seven of the 10 innings, the Nationals had legitimate scoring chances. They looked like a rock band that decided to play all of its worst hits on the same night. First inning: bases loaded, none out. Second inning: leadoff double. Third inning: pair of one-out singles. Fourth inning: leadoff single. Seventh inning: first and second, one out. Eighth inning: first and third, one out.
They failed to score each time. In the fourth, they managed three consecutive fielder’s choices. Even Greinke is mystified.
“They should be scoring more than they have,” Greinke said.
Greinke allowed the only Nationals run on his final pitch, when pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina hit an RBI single and was thrown out trying to advance to second, ending the sixth inning. The run ended Greinke’s scoreless innings streak at 21, a Dodgers season-high.
Jose Dominguez, Paco Rodriguez, Ronald Belisario, J.P. Howell, Chris Withrow and Kenley Jansen did the rest. Withrow (1-0) pitched the ninth for his first career win, and Jansen handled the 10th for his 11th save as the Nationals fans, clearly running out of patience, booed their team off the field.
The Nationals wasted a solid outing from starter Gio Gonzalez, who matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts. Greinke, who had won five consecutive starts, scattered seven hits and remained one shy of 100 career wins.
The Dodgers keep winning even though rookie Yasiel Puig has cooled off. He is 0 for 9 with five strikeouts in the series.
“You see a little bit of confusion up there,” Mattingly said. “They’re starting to do some things to him — he seems to be caught in-between a little bit. He’ll be OK. He just needs to catch his wind and clear his head a little bit.”
CINCINNATI — Joey Votto drove in a pair of runs, and Shin-Soo Choo extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games on Saturday, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The third-place Reds have won the first two games in the NL Central series, closing their gap with second-place Pittsburgh to two games. The Ohio River rivals have split their 12 games this season.
Cincinnati’s Mat Latos (9-3) and Pittsburgh’s A.J. Burnett (4-7) had a tough time finding their control after a 1-hour, 17-minute rain delay in the middle of the first inning. Aroldis Chapman escaped a two-on threat in the ninth for his 23rd save in 26 chances.
Latos gave up three runs in only five innings. Travis Snider’s pinch-hit RBI double cut it to 5-4 in the eighth, but Logan Ondrusek got Jose Tabata to ground out with the bases loaded, ending the rally.
METS 5, PHILLIES 4
NEW YORK — Gonzalez Germen came out of the bullpen to bail out fellow rookie Zack Wheeler and help the New York Mets hold off Philadelphia.
Marlon Byrd, David Wright and Daniel Murphy each had an RBI single for the Mets, who handed Cole Hamels his latest defeat and snapped Philadelphia’s seven-game winning streak at Citi Field. Another rookie, Juan Lagares, had a run-scoring single among his three hits.
Jimmy Rollins hit a leadoff homer, and Chase Utley had a two-run shot in the ninth for the Phillies. They put the potential tying run on second with two outs before Bobby Parnell retired Darin Ruf on a game-ending liner to second.
Germen (1-1) escaped a bases-loaded jam and struck out three in 1 2-3 hitless innings for his first major league win. Parnell got three outs for his 18th save despite allowing Utley’s homer.
Hamels (4-12) allowed three runs in a 35-pitch first inning and was pulled for a pinch-hitter after five. The three-time All-Star and 2008 World Series MVP leads the NL in losses.
BREWERS 6, MARLINS 0
MILWAUKEE — Yovani Gallardo carried a shutout into the seventh inning, and Jonathan Lucroy and Rickie Weeks belted home runs, leading Milwaukee over Miami.
Gallardo (8-8) gave up five hits in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out five batters and walked two. Four relievers combined to preserve the shutout as the Brewers held the Marlins without a run for the second consecutive game and extended Miami’s scoreless streak to 24 innings.
Lucroy went 4 for 4 and finished a triple short of a cycle.
The Brewers stretched their dominance at home over the Marlins, winning for the 13th time in 16 games at Miller Park, dating to 2009.
The Brewers got to Miami starter Nathan Eovaldi (2-1) for two runs in the first inning. Rickie Weeks led off the fourth inning with a homer to center field.
Eovaldi surrendered 10 hits and six runs in four innings. He struck out five and walked two.
ROCKIES 9, CUBS 3
DENVER — Carlos Gonzalez homered and Todd Helton had three of the Rockies’ 13 hits in a win over the Cubs.
Troy Tulowitzki, Dexter Fowler and Wilin Rosario had two hits each for a Colorado offense that had scored eight runs in its previous five games.
Luis Valbuena homered and had two RBIs for the Cubs.
Juan Nicasio (6-4) allowed one run on three hits in five innings to get his second straight win since being recalled from Triple-A on July 12.
Carlos Villanueva (2-6) allowed seven runs on nine hits in four-plus innings. He is winless in his last eight starts and his last victory came in relief against Seattle on June 29.
PADRES 5, CARDINALS 3
ST. LOUIS — Edinson Volquez was bailed out by his bullpen and earned the victory in San Diego’s win over the Cardinals.
Nick Vincent, Dale Thayer, Luke Gregorson and Huston Street worked an inning apiece after Volquez (7-8) faded at the end of a five-inning outing. Street was perfect in the ninth for his 16th save in 17 chances after Carlos Quentin’s RBI double off Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth put the Padres up by two runs.
Lance Lynn (11-5) lost for the fourth time in five starts, allowing four runs in five innings. Allen Craig had a two-run single and 29-year-old rookie Brock Peterson had an RBI groundout in his first major league at-bat after getting called up to replace injured Matt Holliday.
Jedd Gyorko, Everth Cabrera and Nick Hundley added an RBI apiece for San Diego, which had lost 19 of 23.
GIANTS 4, DIAMONDBACKS 3
SAN FRANCISCO — Buster Posey hit a two-run homer and Matt Cain bounced back from two rough starts to earn his first win in more than a month as the Giants beat the first-place Diamondbacks for a second straight night.
Posey connected for his 14th homer in the fifth inning. Cain (6-6) allowed two runs in five-plus innings after failing to make it out of the third inning his last two starts to win for the first time since June 13 at Pittsburgh.
With wins in the first two games out of the All-Star break, the World Series champion Giants have cut their deficit in the NL West to 4½ games behind Arizona. The Diamondbacks’ lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers fell to a half-game as Wade Miley (6-8) lasted just four innings.
ROYALS 6, TIGERS 5
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Salvador Perez drove in three runs and Mike Moustakas went 3 for 4 with a game-winning home run to lead the Royals past the Tigers and Justin Verlander.
Verlander (10-7) had not lost to the Royals since Sept. 9, 2009, but gave up six runs, five earned, on eight hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings. It was the seventh time in 21 starts that Verlander failed to make it into the sixth inning.
Moustakas homered to right in the fifth to snap a 5-5 tie.
Perez drove in a run in the first with a sacrifice fly and stroked a two-run double in the third.
Jeremy Guthrie (9-7) picked up the victory, surrendering five runs on 10 hits and two walks in six innings.
Greg Holland worked the ninth to collect his 24th save in 26 chances.
YANKEES 5, RED SOX 2
BOSTON — Brett Gardner and Lyle Overbay each had three hits and drove in a run to back Hiroki Kuroda’s seven strong innings, carrying New York Yankees past Boston.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the injury-riddled Yankees, who hope to be bolstered soon by the return of captain Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
Mike Carp had three hits and scored a run for the Red Sox. It was just Boston’s second loss in its last 11 games in Fenway Park.
Kuroda (9-6) and John Lackey (7-7) combined for just one walk — by Kuroda — and threw a high percentage of strikes.
All Star game MVP Mariano Rivera entered to a nice ovation and worked the ninth for his 31st save. Robinson Cano added two RBIs.
ANGELS 2, ATHLETICS 0
ANAHEIM, Calif. — C.J. Wilson outpitched Dan Straily, retiring 18 consecutive batters at one point, and Alberto Callaspo homered to help Los Angeles beat Oakland.
Wilson (10-6) gave up three hits in 8 1-3 innings. He struck out eight and walked two. Jed Lowrie’s two-out double in the first and Nate Freiman’s leadoff single in the second were the only hits off the left-hander until Lowrie’s one-out single in the ninth on Wilson’s 119th and final pitch. Wilson began his string of consecutive outs with three straight strikeouts on 10 pitches and didn’t allow another baserunner until he walked Derek Norris on a full count leading off the eighth.
Ernesto Frieri got the final two outs for his 24th save in 26 chances, striking out pinch-hitter John Jaso with runners at first and second to end it.
RAYS 4, BLUE JAYS 3
TORONTO — Jeremy Hellickson won his fifth straight decision, Desmond Jennings reached base four times and Tampa Bay beat the Toronto for its 16th win in 18 games.
Rookie Wil Myers had two RBIs in his first career start as the cleanup hitter. Myers, who finished 2 for 4, has nine hits in his past 17 at bats.
Jennings went 3 for 4 with a walk and scored twice.
After starting the season 14-18, the Rays are a major league-best 43-23 since May 8.
Toronto’s Jose Bautista homered for the second straight game but the last-place Blue Jays lost for the fifth time in six games.
Hellickson (9-3) allowed two runs and five hits in five innings, walked three and struck out three.
ORIOLES 7, RANGERS 4
ARLINGTON, Texas — Adam Jones homered, every Baltimore starter had a hit, and Miguel Gonzalez pitched another solid game on the road in the victory over sliding Texas.
Rangers starter Ross Wolf (1-3) was done after the first four batters in the third reached base. They all scored to put Baltimore up 7-0. Wolf gave up nine hits to the 16 batters he faced, and his only two strikeouts ended the first with the bases loaded after the Orioles had already scored twice.
Gonzalez (8-3) scattered eight hits and allowed one run in 6 2-3 innings. He left after his 104th pitch, when Ian Kinsler had a sac fly for the first Texas run. Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his majors-best 35th save.
TWINS 3, INDIANS 2
MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Correia threw six sharp innings for his first win in a month, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau each had two hits and a walk, and Minnesota beat Cleveland for its fourth-straight win.
Correia (7-6) allowed only three hits — one of them a two-run homer by Jason Kipnis — with one walk and three strikeouts.
The Indians led 2-0 after Kipnis’ homer in the sixth. But Corey Kluber — who had pitched five shutout innings up to that point — left the game with tightness in his left hip, and the Twins pounced on a couple of Cleveland infield miscues to take the lead.
The Indians have lost two straight after heading into the All-Star break with a four-game winning streak.
WHITE SOX 10, BRAVES 6
CHICAGO — Alex Rios hit a grand slam and drove in five runs, and Jake Peavy pitched six solid innings in his return from the disabled list to lead Chicago over Atlanta.
Rios, who had been in a 2-for-20 slump, went 3 for 5 to help Chicago win for just the 10th time in 32 games.
Peavy (7-4), making his first start since June 4 because of a fracture rib, allowed seven hits in six innings, and just two of the four runs charged to him were earned.
Braves starter Paul Maholm (9-9) was forced out in the fourth inning because of a sprained left wrist. He was staked to a 4-0 lead but couldn’t hold it. He allowed seven runs and seven hits in three-plus innings.