POSTED: 02:28 p.m. HST, Sep 19, 2012
WASHINGTON >>Kurt Suzuki drove in a run for the Nationals and Shane Victorino stole two bases for the Dodgers as Washington beat Los Angeles 3-1 in the first game of a doubleheader today.
The victory is the Nationals’ 90th win and lowered the team’s magic number for securing a playoff berth to one.
“The only thing that’s going to mean anything to me is when we clinch the pennant,”said manager Davey Johnson. “That’s the only thing, the only number, I’m concerned with.”
The Nationals’ 90 victories are the most for a major league club in the nation’s capital since 1933 — which also was the last time a D.C. team played beyond the regular season.
“We’re really not thinking about that. Definitely, I’m not, anyway,” said Suzuki, who drove in Washington’s first run with a fly ball in the second inning. “We’re thinking about winning the division.”
Victorino’s two stolen bases raised his season total to 37, tying a career high, but it wasn’t enough to bring the Dodgers a win.
Pitching on seven days’ rest because of Monday’s scheduled day off and Tuesday’s rainout, Jordon Zimmermann (11-8) kept putting runners on base and working around it. He allowed six hits, walked four and hit a batter, but Hanley Ramirez’s RBI single in the third produced the Dodgers’ only run.
Four relievers followed him, combining to allow three hits across four shutout innings. Sean Burnett got out of a potentially troublesome spot in the seventh by striking out Adrian Gonzalez with runners on the corners, and Tyler Clippard pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 35 chances.
Another victory in the day’s second game would allow the Nationals to assure themselves of no worse than a wild-card berth.
But everyone associated with the franchise, which moved from Montreal before the 2005 season, keeps saying the real goal is a division title — followed by more success in the postseason.
As general manager Mike Rizzo put it: “Clinching a playoff berth is just one of the small steps in our grand plan.”