WASHINGTON -- Through all the injuries and crises of confidence, John Patterson never let go of the hope that this type of night would come along.
Showing all of the promise that made him a No. 1 draft pick in 1996, Patterson capped a string of brilliant outings with the best of all Thursday night. He struck out a career-high 13 in his first complete game shutout and led Washington past the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-0 for the Nationals' first series victory in a month.
"This is what I've always believed that I could do. I mean, if I would have given up on that I don't know how far I would have eventually gotten," Patterson said. "I believed that I could turn it around and get over the injuries, get healthy and go out and pitch and show the potential that everybody thought I had early in my career."
He allowed four hits and no walks, never allowing a runner past second base. He struck out everyone in the Dodgers starting lineup at least once, getting Jeff Kent, Jose Valentin, Oscar Robles and Dioner Navarro twice each.
"His ball was jumping," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said.
"I haven't seen anybody pitch better all year," said Dodgers outfielder Milton Bradley, 0-for-4 with a strikeout. "It was definitely a special night for him."
And one Patterson felt was a long time coming.
He had "Tommy John" right elbow ligament surgery in 2000, started the next season on the disabled list, had brief stints in the majors with Arizona, then was traded to Montreal but was on the DL for more than two months in 2004 because of a right groin strain. Patterson went 4-7 with a 5.03 ERA last season, and only began 2005 in the Nationals' rotation because of a spring training injury to Tony Armas Jr.
But he clearly has turned a corner, especially lately. He has a 1.02 ERA with 54 strikeouts over his past six starts.
"I'm learning at a very fast rate right now," Patterson said. "I feel like I can do things now without worrying about looking over my shoulder, whether I'm going to be hurt. It's been an amazing year."
He got help from a Nationals offense that hadn't scored more than four runs in the previous 15 games. Wilkerson's homer off reliever Duaner Sanchez on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the eighth was Washington's first grand slam of the season; it was the only club in the majors without one.
"It just feels good to score more than four or five runs," Wilkerson said.
The Nationals took two of three games from Los Angeles to halt a slide in which they had lost seven consecutive series since sweeping the Chicago Cubs on July 1-3. That was also the last time Washington won consecutive games.
"You see that little look in their eye that's been missing for a while," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "It looks like the confidence level is back."
Washington scored twice off Dodgers starter Brad Penny (5-7) in the fourth inning, with help from some unlikely sources.
Castilla, who entered the night batting .108 over his last 12 games, hit an RBI double to make it 1-0. He moved to third on a groundout, then scored on a groundout by Guzman, who came into the game hitting .189 and collected his first RBI since June 20.
Guzman drove in another run in the eighth by singling through a draw-in infield off Sanchez, who walked two batters to load the bases. If Guzman hadn't made it 3-0, Robinson would have pinch hit for Patterson, who was on deck.
"It's about time I do something for the team," Guzman said.
Because he did, Patterson stayed in for the ninth.
When he walked off the mound after the first complete game shutout in Nationals history, Patterson tipped his cap to the appreciative crowd of 35,484.
"I just feel comfortable," Patterson said. "For the first time in my career, I feel comfortable in the clubhouse. I feel comfortable in the city. I feel comfortable with the fans."
|John Patterson is congratulated by catcher Gary Bennett after firing his first CG shutout. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Cesar Izturis, SS||4||0||2||0||0||1||0||.269|
|Oscar Robles, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.282|
|Milton Bradley, CF||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.279|
|Jeff Kent, 1B||3||0||0||0||0||2||0||.302|
|Ricky Ledee, RF||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.279|
|Antonio Perez, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.333|
|Jose Valentin, LF||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.183|
|Dioner Navarro, C||3||0||0||0||0||2||0||.158|
|Brad Penny, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.121|
|Duaner Sanchez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Elmer Dessens, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Hee Seop Choi, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.246|
|a-flied out for Dessens in the 9th|
|2B - Cesar Izturis (16, Patterson)|
|SB - Antonio Perez (9, 2nd base off Patterson/Bennett)|
|Team LOB - 3|
|DP - Izturis-Perez-Kent|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Brad Penny (L,5-7)||7||9||3||3||2||8||0||3.63|
|Pitches-Strikes - Brad Penny 117-75, Duaner Sanchez 24-12, Elmer Dessens 5-3|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brad Penny 5-7, Elmer Dessens 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Brad Penny 31, Duaner Sanchez 6, Elmer Dessens 1|
|Brad Wilkerson, CF||4||1||1||4||1||0||0||.256|
|Jose Vidro, 2B||5||0||1||0||0||0||1||.265|
|Jamey Carroll, 2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.238|
|Nick Johnson, 1B||4||0||3||0||0||0||0||.323|
|Preston Wilson, LF||4||1||2||0||0||2||3||.257|
|Ryan Church, RF||3||2||1||0||1||0||1||.305|
|Vinny Castilla, 3B||3||2||1||1||1||1||0||.246|
|Gary Bennett, C||3||0||0||0||1||1||4||.245|
|Cristian Guzman, SS||4||1||2||2||0||1||0||.193|
|John Patterson, P||4||0||0||0||0||3||5||.029|
|2B - Nick Johnson (23, Penny), Vinny Castilla (26, Penny)|
|HR - Brad Wilkerson (7, Sanchez)|
|RBI - Brad Wilkerson 4 (42), Vinny Castilla (47), Cristian Guzman 2 (15)|
|2-OUT RBI - Brad Wilkerson 4 (21)|
|SB - Ryan Church (3, 2nd base off Penny/Navarro)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Patterson-Guzman-N. Johnson|
|John Patterson (W,5-3)||9||4||0||0||0||13||0||2.42|
|Pitches-Strikes - John Patterson 116-84|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Patterson 4-9|
|Batters Faced - John Patterson 30|
|Attendance - 35484|
|Game Time - 2:40|
|Temperature - 92|
|Umpires - Home - Phil Cuzzi, First Base - Ed Hickox, Second Base - Jerry Crawford, Third Base - C.B. Bucknor|