- - Sunday, May 20, 2018

Washington manager Dave Martinez sighed deeply, even before the first question was asked late Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.

A few minutes later, after entering his office, Martinez nonchalantly tossed his baseball hat in the air above his desk following a third straight loss.

It was a frustrating 27 hours this weekend for Martinez and the Nationals, who were held to four hits on Sunday in a 7-2 loss to a Los Angeles Dodgers team that appeared in a freefall before coming to the nation’s capital.

But the Nationals scored just seven runs in three-game sweep by the Dodgers, who won a doubleheader Saturday on a day veteran Nationals infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick was lost for the season with a right Achilles injury.

There was more bad news Sunday, as Martinez said after the game veteran reliever Ryan Madson is headed to the disabled list with a pectoral injury.

“He is going to get an MRI” on Monday, Martinez said. “We have been keeping an eye on it. We want him healthy.”

Madson, 37, has pitched in 21 of the first 45 games and has three saves but has not seen action since May 13. He missed all of 2012 and 2014 due to injuries.

“It stinks. You feel bad for those guys,” said Nationals shortstop Trea Turner, whose two-run homer in the third inning accounted for his team’s only runs. “Injuries are part of the game (but) they seem to keep happening to us.”

The Nationals are now 24-21 overall after winning 13 of 15 games before the Dodgers (20-26) came to town.

Other key players who are on the disabled list for Washington include first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (right oblique strain), catcher Matt Wieters (hamstring), second baseman Daniel Murphy (knee), who has not played all season; outfielder Brian Goodwin (left wrist contusion) and lefty reliever Matt Grace (left groin strain).

“It is unfortunate,” Washington pitcher Stephen Strasburg said of the injuries. “You can sit here and feel sorry for yourself but the other team is not going to do that.”

Strasburg gave up two homers and three runs Sunday and fell to 5-4 overall while throwing a season-high 115 pitches. He was lifted with two outs in the seventh, and reliever Wander Suero gave up the 18th homer allowed by the Washington bullpen this season in the eighth.

“It is a tough loss after a long layoff,” said Strasburg, who had not pitched since May 12. “I gave everything I had and it just wasn’t good enough today.”

But the offense and the everyday lineup is a bigger concern than starting pitchers.

The Nationals now have a team batting average of .234. Starting center fielder Michael A. Taylor is hitting .181 after having played in all but one game while right fielder Bryce Harper, despite 13 homers, was 0-for-3 Sunday and his average is down to .224.

“We have to start taking our walks again. Get on base for the next guy,” Martinez said of his team. “We could not get anything going.”

“We couldn’t get over the hump the last two days,” Turner said. “I feel like we are hitting the ball good. We have had numerous guys hit the ball pretty well and have nothing to show for it.”

One bright spot Sunday was the big league debut of 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto, who struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning for his first major league at-bat. Harper was the last teenager to make his debut with the Nationals, in 2012.

Soto began the season with the low-Single A Hagerstown Suns and was promoted twice before getting the summons to Washington on Sunday.

He was tied for the minor league lead with 14 homers and was first in RBI with 52 through Saturday.

“I like his swing, I really do,” Martinez said. “He stays through the strike zone a long time. We wanted to get him an at-bat today. I definitely want him to play one of the next two days,” when the Padres come to town Monday for a three-game set.

NOTES: Nationals catcher Matt Wieters, who had surgery last week on his hamstring, told reporters Sunday he hopes to return this season. … Lefty Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 2.36) will get the start Monday at 7:05 p.m. against the last-place San Diego Padres and lefty Robbie Erlin (1-2, 3.46). … Outfielder Rafael Bautista, who played in nine games for the Nationals this year, was injured over the weekend for Triple-A Syracuse and will miss the rest of the season.


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