LOS ANGELES ― The Tony Gonsolin who led the major leagues in ERA, had not lost a game that counted, and pitched himself into position to start the All-Star Game, showed up.
For four innings against the Washington Nationals on Monday at Dodger Stadium, Gonsolin did not allow a hit. Then he imploded.
The Nationals batted around against Gonsolin in the fifth inning, scoring four runs en route to an eventual 4-1 victory over the Dodgers.
The loss halted a season-best eight-game winning streak for the Dodgers (64-30), sandwiched around the All-Star Game. They went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base. Their only run came on a solo home run by Trayce Thompson in the third inning.
Nationals slugger Juan Soto, who won the Home Run Derby here a week ago, had a big hit in Washington’s big inning, a two-run triple down the first-base line. Gonsolin (11-1) also allowed a solo home run to Yadiel Hernandez in suffering his first loss of 2022 outside the All-Star Game.
Nationals starter Paolo Espino and three relievers practically dared the Dodgers to put the ball in play, filling the strike zone aggressively with all but the bendiest of breaking balls. For the most part, the strategy worked. Espino set an ominous tone in the first inning by retiring All-Stars Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman on six pitches.
At least the Dodgers had their chances.
Trea Turner led off the fourth inning with a double to left-center field, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. He went to third base on a groundout by Freddie Freeman, but he was stranded there.
In the fifth inning, Max Muncy lined a two-strike pitch to center field for a single. The next batter, Gavin Lux, lined a two-strike pitch the opposite way, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. More significantly, the consecutive hits knocked Espino out of the game.
On came right-hander Andres Machado (1-0). He started off Cody Bellinger with a pair of changeups for strikes, then reared back for the swinging strikeout on a 95-mph fastball. Trayce Thompson drew a full-count walk, loading the bases. But Machado came back to freeze Betts on a two-strike fastball down the middle. Turner stroked a fly ball sharply to right field, but Juan Soto drifted back to make an easy catch.
That was the Dodgers’ best threat until the eighth inning, when singles by Turner and Lamb put a pair of runners aboard for Muncy.
Right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. snuck a looping curveball over the top of the zone for a key called strike on 1-and-1. Muncy didn’t like the call, and neither did the announced crowd of 48,647 umpires at Dodger Stadium. Then with a full count, Muncy swung awkwardly at a changeup for strike three, ending the inning.
More to come on this story.