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“We kept looking at ourselves in the mirror, kept saying let’s get one game at a time and build from there. That’s what we did. It’s tough to regain that feeling. But once you do, it is easy to keep going. It was a matter of finding it and hopefully we can keep going.”

Ethier said what several Nationals have said this season: Looking at the standings does no good. When you’re not playing another team, you have no control over what it does. Win, and deficits chip away. The Dodgers have made up a big chunk in a month.

“We redefined our goals a little bit, took a step back and said we’re not trying to go out and be the best team in the National League right now,” Ethier said. “We need to try to be the best team in our division first. We were sitting at the bottom looking up. Fortunately, we had all those teams stacked up to play in a row, so we knew we could make up some ground doing it.

“One little spark, one little thing kind of sets it off. No one is going to let up on them, we learned that. No mercy. Teams wanted to keep kicking us while we’re down. We had to figure out a way, figure out in games like this how to hang in there long enough to give us a shot. We looked and there were still a lot of games left. Time was on our side. We knew we were capable of it from spring training, even when we weren’t playing well. We’ve believed that and we’ve had to keep that belief no matter what.”

Greinke, who won his sixth in a row Saturday, faced the Nationals in Los Angeles when Harper was out. He agreed the Nats look a lot like the Dodgers did – a capable team that hasn’t gotten it done yet.

“We’ve been a little healthy,” said Greinke, who missed time earlier this season with a broken collarbone. “It’s just like our whole team is on a roll. Defensively, we’re not making any mistakes. I don’t know how you can predict things like that. It has been happening.

“Their team looks great to me. Harper is fantastic. I faced them a month ago without him and he makes them much more dangerous. You expect Strasburg, Gio, Zimmermann to dominate you. The best you can hope for is a game like you had today.”

Mattingly thinks the Nationals have a run similar to what his team has done in them.

“It’s there. It just doesn’t need to start until Monday,” Mattingly said. “They got it there. They have talent and they have pitching. They’re capable of doing it. I’d be happy for them if it starts after tomorrow.”