LOS ANGELES (AP) — It's the great flaw of an otherwise elite team and has been all season for the Washington Nationals — their beleaguered bullpen.
But on Monday night, the relief corps followed a solid start by Gio Gonzalez with three scoreless innings to lead the surging Nationals past the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 in a rematch of last year's tight playoff series.
"It's about time we hung onto one of those," manager Dusty Baker said.
Anthony Rendon's solo homer in the second started the scoring for Washington, which got a two-run single from Matt Wieters with two outs in the fourth and another two-out RBI single from Bryce Harper in the fifth.
"The key to the game was we got a couple of big two-out knocks," Baker said. "That was the ballgame."
Washington, which owns the National League's best record at 36-20, has won six of seven and increased its NL East lead to 11½ games.
Gonzalez (5-1) went six innings, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out five in the first meeting between the teams since the Dodgers edged the Nationals in five games during their 2016 NL Division Series.
Los Angeles scored both its runs in the sixth. Chris Taylor doubled in one, and Franklin Gutierrez had an RBI groundout.
All of the Nationals' scoring came against Hyun-Jin Ryu, who went a season-high seven innings. Ryu (2-6) yielded four runs on seven hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out four.
"Hyun-Jin was good," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He came out with a lot of conviction. Just to kind of see him come out with a purpose and focus was really encouraging."
The Dodgers, however, could never strike against Washington's struggling bullpen. The unit has a 5.15 ERA and an opponents' batting average of .280 — both the highest in baseball.
But hard-throwing Enny Romero gave the Nationals two scoreless innings, and Matt Albers got the first two outs of the ninth. Oliver Perez struck out Yasmani Grandal looking at a 2-2 slider with a runner on for the third save of his 15-year career. The other two came in 2013 with Seattle.
Six different Nationals have earned a save this year.
"A pretty unbelievable breaking ball to throw on a 2-2 count," Gonzalez said. "He grabs the ball and you know something good is going to happen. He's just an exciting guy."
Nationals: OF Jayson Werth (left big toe) was placed on the 10-day disabled list, and utilityman Ryan Raburn was called up from Triple-A Syracuse. The 38-year-old Werth is batting .262 with eight home runs. Baker said the team called up the right-handed-hitting Raburn because the Dodgers are starting three consecutive lefties. "That's been his forte," Baker said.
Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner (hamstring) played his first rehab game in the minors and could be activated by Friday. ... LHP Alex Wood (shoulder inflammation) is expected to be activated this weekend. ... Ex-manager Tommy Lasorda returned to Dodger Stadium, 11 days after getting a new pacemaker.
Joc Pederson (concussion) is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend, but when he returns to the Dodgers it is uncertain whether the outfielder will start regularly. Taylor has blossomed (.318, seven homers, 23 RBIs in 42 games) in the absence of Pederson, who was hitting only .200 with two homers in 35 games. "We want (Pederson) to be really swinging the bat well before he gets here," Roberts said. "And Chris Taylor, the way he's played, he's earned the opportunity to get more chances out there, whether it's in center field, whether it's in right field, whether it's in left field."
The Nationals ended a five-game losing streak at Dodger Stadium and snapped Los Angeles' four-game winning streak at home. Washington is 20-11 on the road.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (6-3, 2.56 ERA) pitches Tuesday night against the Dodgers. He has won his last two starts, allowing two runs in 17 2/3 innings while walking two and striking out 24. He is 1-2 with a 3.98 ERA in five career starts at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers: RHP Brandon McCarthy is scheduled to make his 10th start of the season. He took a 2-0 loss in his most recent outing Thursday at St. Louis, lasting only four innings before a blister forced him out.
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