LOS ANGELES -- The team with the worst record in baseball handed the Los Angeles Dodgers their first home loss of the season. Manny Ramirez had nothing to do with it -- or maybe everything.
Nick Johnson and Adam Dunn each had three RBIs, and the Washington Nationals rallied for 10 runs in the final three innings Thursday night to beat the Dodgers 11-9 on the first day of Ramirez's 50-game drug suspension."We would've chosen a different way to lose than that," said Dodgers starter Randy Wolf, who was staked to a 6-0 lead in the first inning. "We have to start a new streak tomorrow. But April and May records are pretty meaningless. It's how you end a season, not how you begin it. We can't lose sight of the big picture."That's where Ramirez comes in. The enigmatic slugger was penalized for violating baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy. He will lose $7,650,273 of his $25 million salary. Barring any postponements, the 12-time All-Star left fielder and 2004 World Series MVP will be able to return to the lineup on July 3 at San Diego."This is a team. This is not the `Los Angeles Mannys," said injured first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who played with Ramirez on Boston's 2004 World Series team. "Manny's a big part of our team. But as far as the team goes, this is a tremendous opportunity for us to prove to people that we're not just Manny and 24 other guys."Manager Joe Torre held a closed-door meeting with his players and coaches before batting practice to discuss how they will deal with the loss of Ramirez. The Dodgers quickly responded with another strong first inning against Jordan Zimmermann.Wolf allowed five hits over six innings and left with a 6-1 lead after 109 pitches."Six runs is a good number, and Wolfie battled through six," Torre said. "It's an emotional thing, but I had a sense they'd be ready to play. Our bullpen for the first time just didn't do the job. We had guys who were rested, we just didn't get it done."Josh Willingham homered for the Nationals, who had lost their previous 10 games at Dodger Stadium. Ryan Zimmerman was 2-for-4, extending the longest hitting streak in the majors this season to 25 games.Matt Kemp hit his third career grand slam for the defending NL West champion Dodgers, who set a modern major league record Wednesday night with a 13-0 start at home."Those guys had something special going on over here, but we were able to stop their winning streak at home," manager Manny Acta said. "I think that counts for a lot, especially after we were already trailing 6-0. It's a huge comeback and a very good win for us."Cristian Guzman began Washington's late rally with a run-scoring groundout in the seventh, and Will Ohman surrendered Dunn's two-run double two batters later. Cory Wade (0-2) gave up a two-run double to Austin Kearns, who batted for reliever Ron Villone (1-0).One out later, Johnson greeted rookie Brent Leach with another two-run double for an 8-6 lead, and the pesky Nats capped the rally with RBI singles by Dunn and Elijah Dukes.Villone, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Syracuse earlier in the day, pitched a scoreless seventh in relief of Jordan Zimmermann to get the victory.Zimmermann pitched six innings, giving up six runs and six hits with four strikeouts and three walks in his third big league start."The biggest star of the night was Jordan Zimmermann," Acta said. "The fact that he gave us five shutout innings after those six runs in the first just says a lot about this kid. He forgot about all the runs he gave up and was just tremendous after that. He could have just rolled over and played dead."
The Dodgers have scored in the first in 10 of their 14 home games -- totaling 21 runs and 28 hits while sending 77 batters to the plate. They have 15 first-inning runs in their last five contests. ... Pierre, taking over in left field for Ramirez, batted ninth for the third time this season and was 2-for-4. ... Andre Ethier, starting in Ramirez's third spot in the batting order, was 1-for-5. ... Ramirez is allowed to work out with the team, but must be out of uniform when the stadium gates open for games.