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Los Angeles Dodgers' failures at plate send fans scurrying toward the exits

Los Angeles Dodgers' failures at plate send fans scurrying toward the exits
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal is late with the tag on Nationals centerfirelder Trea Turner who scored on a Jayson Werth triple in the third inning. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Shortly after Jayson Werth deposited a ninth-inning offering from Kenley Jansen into the bleachers in left field to increase the Dodgers' deficit to two runs, fans started streaming up the stadium aisles and heading toward the parking lot.

A two-run double by Ryan Zimmerman later in the inning emptied more than half of Dodger Stadium, including the owners' box near the home team's on-deck circle.

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The deserters chose to head into rush-hour traffic rather than watch the remainder of the game, but who could blame them?

The Dodgers had virtually no offense in Game 3 of their National League division series against the Washington Nationals. They went into the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by five runs, but it might as well have been 60. They had no life and their fans had no hope.

The final score reflected this reality: Nationals 8, Dodgers 3.

The Dodgers moved to within a game of elimination, now trailing in the best-of-five series, two games to one.

"Just have to come out and put up runs tomorrow," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said.

But can they?

Their entire run production in Game 3 consisted of a run-scoring double by Corey Seager in the first inning and a near-miracle, two-run home run by pinch-hitter Carlos Ruiz in the fifth.

All three runs were scored with a man on first base.

If their problem in Game 2 was producing with runners on base, their issue Monday was placing men in scoring position. Only two Dodgers made it there: Seager and Howie Kendrick, who doubled in the third inning.

While they chased Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez after five innings — the Dodgers trailed at the time, 4-3 — they again failed to score against the opposing bullpen.

In their 5-2 defeat in Game 2, the Dodgers were shut out by the Nationals' bullpen over the final 4 2/3 innings.

They also failed to score in three innings against Nationals relievers in Game 1.

That's a credit to the Nationals, who had the second-best bullpen earned-run average in baseball. Only the Dodgers were better.

However, the offense's late-game disappearances also are a symptom of what's happened to this supposedly deep lineup assembled by Andrew Friedman's front office.

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Seager has shown up to play in this series, driving in a run in the first inning of each game. Justin Turner has too, reaching base in nine of 13 plate appearances.

And that's it.

As for Gonzalez, who has a history of neck and back problems, he looks as if he's physically laboring. He was one for four Monday and is two for 13 in the series.

The absence of his production is especially noticeable, if only because when Gonzalez goes, the Dodgers go with him.

Gonzalez, who drove in five runs last year in the division series against the New York Mets, blamed the results on his approach.

"The game plan was to work the count and they came after me with early strikes," he said. "I fell behind and battled. I was able to have long at-bats, but the final contact wasn't there. It's one of those things if I would have gone with the mentality of being aggressive, I might have made better contact, hit the ball harder."

Perhaps equally troubling is the team's continued inability to do anything against left-handed pitchers.

The availability of the right-handed-hitting Kendrick and Yasiel Puig as platoon players was supposed to help, but it hasn't.

That shouldn't be a surprise. Kendrick and Puig are used to playing every day. Making them part-time players provides them with a significant obstacle in developing rhythm at the plate.

While Kendrick and Puig have accepted reduced roles, Kendrick acknowledged, "It's very tough. Obviously, playing every day is the most ideal situation."

Kendrick is batting .250 in the series, Puig .000.

The Dodgers have a combined three hits in six innings against the Nationals' three left-handed relievers, Sammy Solis, Oliver Perez and Marc Rzepczynski.

When Kirk Gibson launched his famous home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, a set of red lights suddenly became visible in the parking lot, evidence of a remorseful motorist stomping on his brakes.

There were red lights again in the ninth inning Monday, but for another reason. Traffic was gridlocked on Sunset Boulevard.

Follow Dylan Hernandez on Twitter @dylanohernandez

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