WASHINGTON -- Cody Bellinger hit his 38th homer to match the National League single-season record for rookies, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 Saturday to inch closer to the NL West title.
Chase Utley had two doubles and scored twice to help the Dodgers reduce their magic number to win the division to five. Rich Hill and five relievers combined on a four-hitter.
Los Angeles also moved seven games ahead of Washington in the race to secure home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. The Dodgers have won four straight since dropping 11 in a row.
Anthony Rendon homered for the Nationals, who have lost four of five since clinching the NL East last Sunday.
Bellinger hit a solo shot off A.J. Cole (2-5) in the second inning and added an RBI single in the third. Wally Berger (1930) and Frank Robinson (1956) are the only other NL players to hit 38 in their first full season in the big leagues. The major league record is 49, by Mark McGwire.
Hill (10-8) allowed one hit in five innings, struck out seven and walked two. He had lost his previous four starts.
In the eighth, the Nationals closed to 3-2 and had the potential tying run on second with two outs. Daniel Murphy hit a sinking liner to right that was snared by a diving Yasiel Puig.
Kenley Jansen worked a perfect ninth for his 38th save.
Though Washington is assured a postseason berth, that doesn't mean winning isn't important.
"We're past celebrating. That's over," manager Dusty Baker said before the game. "I want to see some more energy. We've been roughed up pretty good this last week."
Bellinger put the Dodgers ahead for good with his second-inning drive and drove in Utley in the third. After Rendon went deep in the fourth, Utley doubled in the fifth and came home on a fly ball by Justin Turner.
Watching Max Scherzrer rack up Ks during a game is a usual sight for fans.
Dancing is not.
On Wednesday while the Sports Junkies were broadcasting at Nats Spring Training in West Palm Beach, we got a taste of what the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner has to offer on the dance floor.
With just about a week left until their season kicks off, manager Dave Martinez hired a DJ for the day's workout, saying he wanted to "turn it up a notch."
Well he turned it up a few too many notches, causing the back end of the complex where the Junkies were broadcasting to lose power.
While the Junkies were put in a pickle because of said DJ, we were able to get a glance of Scherzer dancing to Drakes' "God's Plan."
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It's nice to see the usually lazer-focused pitcher let loose.
While Scherzer's dance moves didn't actually cause the Junkies to lose power, it's nice to think they were too much for the ballpark to handle.
106.7 The Fans Sports Junkies simulcasts on NBC Sports Washington every weekday morning from 6:00 to 10:00 am ET. You can stream the Sports Junkies right here.
It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.
It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.
They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training.
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Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.
Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.
Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.
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