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LAD@WSH: Morse crushes a two-run tater to left

WASHINGTON -- Left fielder Michael Morse continues to show that he is the Nationals' most valuable player. He hit two home runs and helped the Nats overpower the Dodgers, 7-2, at Nationals Park on Monday afternoon.

It was a game that saw Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda strike out a season-high nine, but he also surrendered a career-high four home runs. Three of those occurred in the first inning.

Ian Desmond led off the bottom of the first and tied the game at 1 by hitting his seventh homer of the season on a 1-2 pitch. It was his second leadoff homer in the last three games.

"All I know is, I hit the farthest of anybody today," Desmond joked.

Three batters later, with Rick Ankiel on first, Morse hit a two-run homer over the left-field wall to give Washington a two-run cushion.

Jayson Werth followed and hit a monster homer into the left-field seats to make it 4-1.

"You have to struggle. You have to grind. At this time of the season, you don't have 100 percent, but you've got to give what you have on that day," Kuroda said. "As a starting pitcher, you have a responsibility to keep the game close, and I wasn't able to do that today."

Left-hander John Lannan started for Washington, lasting 5 1/3 innings and allowing a run on eight hits. He struck out four and walked two.

Los Angeles' run off Lannan came in the first, when Jamey Carroll touched home plate on a double by Matt Kemp.

Lannan left the game in the sixth after throwing 94 pitches and allowing a one-out single to Juan Rivera. Lannan tried to talk manager Davey Johnson into letting him stay in and get the double play. Johnson's response? "Nice try."

Johnson appreciated that Lannan wanted to stay in the game.

"I wasn't trying to be defiant," Lannan said. "[I said], 'Could I get one more hitter?' I was trying to be as nice as possible. I wanted it. I felt good and I wanted to keep battling. But my pitch count was high. It was a hot day. Our bullpen was fresh. I understood why."

With Lannan on the mound in the fourth, the Nats came close to recording their first triple play. The Dodgers had runners on first and second when Russell Mitchell came to the plate.

Mitchell hit a hard shot to Ryan Zimmerman, who touched third for the first out and quickly threw to second for the second out, but Danny Espinosa's errant throw eluded Chris Marrero at first base for an error. The replay showed that a good throw would have retired Mitchell at first.

"That would have been awesome," Lannan said. "I haven't looked at the video yet. When he hit the ball, I said, 'OK, and then when he threw to second, there might be a chance. The throw was a little wide. It would have been cool."

Said Desmond, "I thought I was going to see a triple play. It was close. We had the arm at second base for it. But we'll get [a triple play]. It's a matter of time."

Morse added to the lead, hitting his second homer of the day in the sixth, a solo shot into the bullpen.

Morse, who was not available for comment, is leading the team in home runs (26) and RBIs {82). He is often compared to Werth because both were in their late 20s when they were given a chance to play every day.

Werth had a feeling during Spring Training that Morse was going to be a special player. It happened during a trip in Lakeland, Fla. They both hit home runs against the Tigers and had brunch before the game, and dinner after it.

"We talked about a lot of stuff -- all kinds of stuff," Werth said. "I felt good about him probably before then. But that day is where I said, 'This guy is going to be good.' I could see where his head was, what he thought about things, how he looked at the game.

"I'm really happy for him. This game is not easy. We had similar parts of our career as far as the age. I can appreciate it. I think he always had it in him. It's good to see somebody shine like that and let his ability play out. I don't think he is a flash in the pan. He has developed his swing, he has his swagger."

The Nats made it 6-1 in the seventh off reliever Josh Lindblom. Desmond scored all the way from first on a double by Ankiel.

Washington's last run came on an RBI single by Wilson Ramos off Ramon Troncoso in the eighth.

With the victory, the Nationals improved to 65-74.

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