Hillenbrand’s HR, sac fly give Dodgers 10-9, 12-inning win over Nationals to complete sweep

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—Los Angeles has resuscitated Shea Hillenbrand’s big league career, and the seven-year veteran is doing his best to recharge the Dodgers’ season.

Hillenbrand hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning and a sacrifice fly in the 12th as the Dodgers rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the Washington Nationals 10-9 on Wednesday and complete a three-game sweep.

“I’ve been through a bit of adversity this season that I never even thought would happen in my career—especially with the success I’ve had,” said Hillenbrand, who was reunited with former Boston manager Grady Little on Aug. 13 in L.A. after getting released by the Angels and Padres. “The game is very humbling, so you’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you can and every situation you get put in.”

James Loney drove in four runs for the Dodgers, who also got homers from Russell Martin and Matt Kemp. Jeff Kent had four hits, including a leadoff single that started the winning rally.

Los Angeles, which won its fourth straight, crept within 3 1/2 games of first in the NL West when San Diego beat Arizona on Wednesday night.

“We’re excited about being able to come home and win three games, because we know we’ve got to play some catch-up and make up some ground here,” Kent said. “We’re all pulling on the same side of the rope, so we’ll see how good we are.”

Washington wasted an 8-3 lead and lost its sixth straight game. Nook Logan drove in three runs for the Nationals and Ryan Church had four hits. Robert Fick homered and drove in two runs, but also grounded into a pair inning-ending double plays with runners in scoring position.

“We just ran into a team that’s real hungry, and they showed it— especially today,” Fick said.

After Kent reached in the 12th, he took third on Martin’s double down the right-field line against Saul Rivera (4-5). Following an intentional walk to Loney, Hillenbrand flied out to right fielder Austin Kearns and Kent barely avoided catcher Jesus Flores’ sweep tag with a headfirst slide.

“I noticed that the outfielder took a step back as soon as the ball was hit, and that gave me an idea that I was going to go,” Kent said. “I was either going to take him out and hopefully knock the ball away—but if he gave me the plate, I was going to just try to get my hand in there.”

Scott Proctor (3-0) pitched three innings of one-hit relief, using his changeup to induce an inning-ending double play ball from Fick in the 12th with runners at the corners.

“I wanted to stay in the game as long as possible and try to save the bullpen,” Proctor said. “We used a lot of pitchers today, so I was just trying to chew up as many outs as I could.”

After Fick’s solo homer and Logan’s RBI single in the top of the sixth off Mark Hendrickson put the Nationals ahead 8-3, Loney’s three-run double on Shawn Hill’s 96th and final pitch began the comeback in the bottom half. The right-hander allowed seven runs—six earned—and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings.

In his 12th start of the year, Hill allowed more than three earned runs for the first time. In his first 11 starts, he gave up more than two runs only once.

“I didn’t have a whole lot of zip on the ball today and I had to fight to get where I wanted it, Hill said. “It was even worse because I was spotted a 4-0 lead, and a five-run lead going into the sixth. I had to close the door, and what I did was completely unacceptable.”

Ayala relieved and Hillenbrand homered on an 0-2 count. It was Hillenbrand’s first home run in 15 games with the Dodgers.

D’Angelo Jimenez gave the Nationals a 9-8 lead with an RBI single in the seventh, but Kemp led off the bottom half against Luis Ayala with his ninth homer.

Brad Penny gave up six runs, eight hits and two walks in five innings. It was only the fourth time in 28 starts this season that the two-time All-Star gave up more than three earned runs and the first time in his last 10 outings.

“His command wasn’t as good as it normally is and he wasn’t really locating his pitches, but he battled with what he had and kept us close,” Martin said. “He definitely looked like he didn’t feel as good as he normally does. I don’t know if it’s fatigue, but it’s a long season and you’ve got to battle through the ups and downs.”

Notes

Kent had two doubles, raising his career total to 534 and tying Lou Gehrig for 27th place. Tuesday night, Kent passed Joe DiMaggio on the career home run list with his 362nd. … RHP Esteban Loaiza, who the Dodgers claimed off waivers from Oakland, is scheduled to start Tuesday at Chicago.

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