The stretch drive called, and the Dodgers kind of yawned. Not exactly the desired response.
Not with the San Francisco Giants suddenly hot as a Death Valley Labor Day and the Washington Nationals in town trying to claim best-record status in the National League.
The Dodgers and Nationals each started Monday with 77 wins, but by the end of the muggy twilight game only the Nats had increased their win total.
The Nationals jumped all over Roberto Hernandez, hammering him for four home runs in a little over four innings to pound out a 6-4 win before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 41,857.
And with the first day of September, it is already nervous time.
The Dodgers led by five games a week ago, but the Giants have won six of their last seven games. The Dodgers hold two-game lead over the Giants in the National League West.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ offense continued its very late work-in-progress routine. Matched against Gio Gonzalez – who had yet to win a game in the second half – the Dodgers got a two-run homer from Matt Kemp in the first inning.
And then they did not get another hit until Kemp singled in the seventh. The Dodgers managed only six hits on the night.
Hernandez had been more so-so than bad in his first three starts (2-1, 3.52 earned-run average) since the Dodgers acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies Aug. 7.
But Monday it was all bad. The first three home runs he allowed -- by Jayson Werth, Asdrubal Cabrera and Denard Span – were all solo shots. Then Span added a two-run shot in fifth. The two homers doubled Span’s total for the entire season. Cabrera had hit only three previous homers.
Span’s second shot ended the night for Hernandez (8-10), who had won both his previous starts against the Nationals this season while with the Phillies. Hernandez was charged with five runs, five hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings.
In the seventh, Scott Van Slyke followed Kemp’s single with one of his own, which sent a call to the bullpen. Juan Uribe singled off Drew Storen to drive in the Dodgers’ third run.
The Dodgers added a final run with two outs in the ninth when Uribe singled in Yasiel Puig. Pinch-hitter Carl Crawford singled to put runners on the corners and bring up highly rated prospect Joc Pederson to pinch-hit in his major league debut.
With a full count, Washington closer Rafael Soriano struck out Pederson on a called third strike that looked like it might have been outside.
Gonzalez went six-plus innings for Washington, allowing three runs and three hits, with four strikeouts and two walks. Gonzalez (7-9) had been 0-4 in his eight previous starts in the second half.
With the victory, the Nationals improved their record against the Dodgers this season to 3-1.