Zack Greinke gave up seven hits and one run over six innings while striking… (Nick Wass / Associated Press )
These were the kinds of games the Dodgers used to lose with alarming regularity, tight little affairs with runners left all over the bases.
But that was before Hanley Ramirez returned and the bullpen suddenly underwent a rather amazing transformation.
This current incarnation of the Dodgers is finding ways to win close games and they did again on a hot, humid Saturday in Washington, scoring twice in the 10th inning to defeat the Nationals, 3-1.
BOX SCORE: Dodgers 3, Washington 1, 10 inn.
After Adrian Gonzalez led off the 10th inning with a double down the left-field line, the hot-hitting Ramirez lined a run-scoring double to center field to put the Dodgers in front. Ramirez scored on a sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier.
In the 41st game of his injury-shortened season, Ramirez is batting .390 with 28 runs batted in. Of his 53 hits, he has 12 doubles, two triples and nine home runs.
While Ramirez has continued to add life to the offense as Yasiel Puig is struggling for the first time (0 for 11 with five strikeouts), the bullpen has continued its remarkable roll.
Six relievers combined to hold the Nationals scoreless over the last four innings. Jose Dominquez, Paco Rodriguez, Ronald Belisario, J.P. Howell, Chris Withrow and Kenley Jansen held Washington to three hits and combined to strike out five batters.
Withrow earned his first major league victory with a scoreless ninth inning and Jansen pitched a perfect 10th to earn his 11th save.
In its last 12 games, the bullpen has a combined 0.49 earned-run average.
The Dodgers are 19-5 in their last 24 games.
For the first five innings, Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke and left-hander Gio Gonzalez were locked in your basic pitching duel.
The Nationals opened the game as if they were going to cause Greinke trouble, loading the bases with one out in the first inning. But Greinke got Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond to pop up. The Nationals put together two singles with one out in the third inning and Greinke again handled Werth and Desmond.
Greinke extended his scoreless streak to 21 innings before giving up a run in the sixth inning. With two outs, Chad Tracy singled for his third hit and Wilson Ramos walked.
Roger Bernadina pinch-hit for Gonzalez and dropped a broken-bat single into right field to drive in Tracy for the game’s first run.
The Dodgers put together a two-out rally in the seventh inning when Skip Schumaker hit for Greinke and doubled off the left-center field wall. Mark Ellis lined a Drew Storen 0-and-2 fastball into left field to drive in Schumaker with the tying run.
In six innings, Greinke gave up one run, seven hits and three walks. He also struck out three. His 21-inning scoreless streak is the longest by a Dodgers pitcher this season.
Gonzalez held the Dodgers without a run in six innings. He struck out 11 batters and gave up four hits. That’s the most strikeouts for a pitcher against the Dodgers this season.