Dodgers strike early, avoid sweep with 7-1 win over Nats

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LOS ANGELES — Hanser Alberto had a two-run double during the Dodgers’ six-run first inning, and Los Angeles emphatically avoided an improbable series sweep with a 7-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.

Gavin Lux had three hits and drove in two runs, while Mookie Betts reached base four times for the NL-leading Dodgers. Los Angeles had won 19 of 21 before curiously losing its first two this week against the major league-worst Nationals.

Andrew Heaney threw four innings of scoreless, one-hit ball in his return from a lengthy injury absence in the finale of Los Angeles’ 5-2 homestand after hosting the All-Star Game.

The Dodgers chased Nats starter Patrick Corbin when their first 10 batters combined for seven hits – two by Betts – and a walk while making just two outs on 45 pitches. Corbin (4-14) had the shortest start of his 11-year major league career, failing to get out of the first inning for the first time in his 250 starts.

Maikel Franco‘s infield single leading off the third inning was the Nationals’ only hit until the seventh, when Luis Garcia drove in their lone run with a ground-rule double.

Juan Soto went hitless amid another round of “Future Dodger!” chants in Chavez Ravine as Washington capped its six-game West Coast road trip by falling just short of its first four-game winning streak of the season.

And one day after the second-place Padres made up a game in the NL West race on Los Angeles for the first time since July 3, the Dodgers calmly pushed their lead back to 11 1/2 games.

Heaney had pitched just once since April 17 due to shoulder problems, but he has been outstanding when healthy in his first season with the Dodgers: He lowered his ERA to 0.47 with three walks and four strikeouts while on a strict pitch count.

Alex Vesia (3-0) pitched a scoreless sixth.

The Dodgers’ massive first inning began with a leadoff double off the wall by Betts, who missed hitting a leadoff homer for the second consecutive day by a few feet. Justin Turner drove in Betts while playing just his second game since July 16 due to a nagging abdominal injury, and Trayce Thompson added an RBI single before Alberto’s drive to right-center and Austin Barnes‘ RBI single.

Lux then got credit for an RBI double when Victor Robles and Soto allowed his long fly ball to land between them in right-center, and Betts chased Corbin with an infield single.

EVERYDAY TREA

Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a double in the fourth. The All-Star has a hit in 83 of his 97 games this season.

ROSTER MOVE

Heaney returned from the injured list before the game. To make room for Heaney and right-handed reliever Jake Reed, who gave up three hits and a run in 1 1/3 innings of relief, the Dodgers optioned LHP Garrett Cleavinger and RHP Mitch White.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: RHP Tommy Kahnle (right elbow) is unlikely to return before September, manager Dave Roberts said. RHP Blake Treinen (right shoulder) and RHP Brusdar Graterol (right shoulder) could return in August, before the rosters expand. … Freddie Freeman singled and drew a walk before Jake Lamb replaced him at first base to start the fifth inning, apparently to rest the six-time All-Star selection.

UP NEXT

Nationals: After a day off, Anibal Sanchez (0-2, 6.30 ERA) takes the mound Friday when Washington opens a three-game weekend home series against St. Louis.

Dodgers: All-Star Tyler Anderson (10-1, 2.79 ERA) takes the mound at Coors Field on Thursday to open a four-game series with the Colorado Rockies.

Brian Cashman signs 4-year contract to remain Yankees GM

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SAN DIEGO — Brian Cashman has signed a four-year contract to remain the New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager. The announcement was made during the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Cashman, New York’s GM since 1998, had been working on a handshake agreement since early November, when his five-year contract expired.

The Yankees were swept by four games in the AL Championship Series and haven’t reached the World Series since winning in 2009. It is the franchise’s longest title drought since an 18-year gap between 1978-96.

Cashman’s main goal during the offseason is trying to re-sign AL MVP Aaron Judge.

Judge hit an American League-record 62 homers this season with a .311 batting average and 131 RBIs. He turned down the Yankees’ offer on the eve of opening day of a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29.

While Judge remains on the market, Cashman was able to re-sign Anthony Rizzo on Nov. 15 to a two-year contract worth $40 million after turning down a $16 million player option.

Cashman has been the Yankees general manager since 1998. He has been with the organization since 1986, when he was a 19-year old intern in the scouting department. In his 25 seasons as GM, the Yankees have reached the postseason 21 times, including four World Series championships and six American League titles.