Pujols helps Dodgers to 7-game season sweep of Nationals
WASHINGTON (AP) — Albert Pujols hit a go-ahead single as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a seven-game season sweep of the Washington Nationals with a 5-1 win Sunday.
Los Angeles has won a season-high nine straight games since getting no-hit on June 24 by the Chicago Cubs, who have lost nine in a row. The Dodgers improved to a season-best 22 games over .500 at 53-31 following a sweep of the four-game series.
“Great series all the way around,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said.
Beat-up Washington has lost four in a row.
“It was a tough weekend. We’ve just got to keep playing, keep our heads up,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said.
In a game that started shortly after 11 a.m. on the Fourth of July, Joe Ross (5-8) threw his fastest pitch since the 2016 NL Division Series, a year before Tommy John surgery, making a 97.2 mph offering to Matt Beaty in the first inning.
The score was tied 1-1 when Gavin Lux doubled leading off the seventh inning.
Pujols, the 41-year-old three-time MVP signed in May after he was released by the Los Angeles Angels, hit for pitcher David Price (4-0) with one out and pulled a 1-2 slider into left field for a 2-1 lead.
With 2,132 RBIs, Pujols trails only Babe Ruth (2,214) and Hank Aaron (2,297). Pujols has a .345 batting average and 56 RBIs in 75 games against Washington.
“I feel like every time he’s in the box, something good is going to happen,” Lux said.
Martinez brought left-handed closer Brad Hand with two outs to face left-handed Max Muncy, who doubled for a 3-1 lead. Muncy added a two-run double off Wander Suero in the ninth.
“That was the best matchup for us to try and hold it right there,” Martinez said.
Ross allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts, his most since 2017.
Price, the fifth of eight Dodgers pitchers, gave up two hits in two scoreless innings on what manager Roberts planned as a bullpen day.
“It was special,” Roberts said. “Each guy embraced their lane, their role.”
Alcides Escobar had three hits in his second game since he was traded to Washington.
Starling Castro put Washington ahead with an RBI single in the third, and Beaty’s solo homer tied the score in the fourth.
Washington was without slugger Kyle Schwarber, among 12 Nationals on the 10-day injured list, due to a strained right hamstring strain. Shortstop Trea Turner has not played since jamming his left middle finger on Wednesday.
Nationals: C Yan Gomes (right forearm) did not play after being hit by a pitch Saturday night. Gomes is day to day. … RHP Kyle Finnegan threw a bullpen session and will need to face batters before being activated.
Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner pinch hit in the ninth, was hit by a pitch that glanced off a shoulder, then struck his helmet. Turner stayed in the game.
Nationals: LHP Jon Lester (2-3, 5.34 ERA) is scheduled to start Monday’s series opener in San Diego.
Dodgers: A four-game series with Miami starts in Florida before a three-game series in Dodger Stadium against Arizona finishes the pre-All-Star break schedule. RHP Walker Buehler (8-1, 2.35) is scheduled to start Monday.
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