Dodgers fall to Nationals in matinee pitchers’ duel

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles loses fourth straight series as offense gets stymied again.

LOS ANGELES — After a promising rebound game Tuesday, the Dodgers were shut out by Nationals and right-hander Jake Irvin, 2-0, on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. 

Recent Dodgers call-up Landon Knack (0-1) along with relievers Alex Vesia and Michael Grove were not enough to slow down the Nationals, who only scored two first-inning runs.

Again, the Dodgers struggled on offense, scoring three runs or less for the fourth time in the past 10 days. The lineup was 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and Shohei Ohtani (3 for 4) was the only one with a multi-hit game. 

Irvin (1-1) baffled the Dodgers for six innings, allowing four hits and one walk in six innings and striking out six.

The Dodgers (12-9) have lost their last four series.  

Here are three takeaways:

The Dodgers were shut out four times last season. On Wednesday, they encountered their first shutout of this season. 

After struggling with driving home runners during last year’s playoffs, the problem appears to have returned. 

They are hitting .249 this season with runners in scoring position, 11th in the National League. That has helped to drop them to a one-game lead over the San Diego Padres and within two games of third-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

There is an expectation that the Dodgers will hit more consistently, but the offense has been underwhelming when the expectations were set so high. 

Knack had a shaky start to his debut — allowing two runs in the first inning — but settled in to pitch five innings on four hits while striking out four. 

After that, Vesia and Grove allowed no hits, two walks and seven strikeouts over their combined four innings. All three pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts on the day, but they also had no run support.

It is not all doom and gloom for the Dodgers, but they have to at least start considering some long-term changes at the bottom of the order. Even with the addition of Andy Pages on Tuesday, the 6-9 hitters went 1 for 12 on Wednesday.

Gavin Lux does not resemble the hitter he was before his knee injury (hitting .148), James Outman seems to be revamping his swing (.193) and Chris Taylor (.029) has been the worst hitter in baseball with the amount of playing time he is getting. 

When the top of the lineup is not at their best, which won’t happen every night, there has to be some production from even one of the 6-through-9 hitters in the lineup. It would be better to have Miguel Rojas get consistent playing time considering how he is hitting.

The Dodgers have an off day Thursday before hosting the New York Mets for a three-game series starting 7:10 p.m. Friday. Yoshinobu Yamamoto (1-1, 4.50 ERA) will take the mound against Sean Manaea (1-1, 4.30).