WASHINGTON - Andre Ethier thought it was gone. Then he wasn't so sure.
Leading off the ninth in a tie game, Ethier pulled Rafael Soriano's two-strike slider and watched it sail through the oppressive, humid July air in the nation's capital. It barely cleared the high wall, with right fielder Jayson Werth a helpless spectator for the deciding blow in the Los Angeles Dodgers' back-from-the-break 3-2 win Friday night over the Washington Nationals.
"I was jogging at first," Ethier said. "I saw the outfielder get to the wall real quick, Werthy there. ... When he did that I actually starting running real hard because I thought maybe it was going to go off (the wall)."
Hanley Ramirez also homered, and overnight sensation Yasiel Puig made a highlight throw and an even better catch for the Dodgers, who picked up where they left off before the All-Star break, winning for the seventh time in nine games and moving back above .500 to keep the pressure on the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.
"It's weird how confidence can really sometimes sway things, and that feeling can really sway things either way," Ethier said. "It was really tough to get that confident, good feeling going. Hopefully we can keep it going."
The Nationals were hoping to make up ground in the NL East as they began a season-long, 11-game homestand. Instead, they lost for the sixth time in eight games to fall back to .500 and into third place, trailing the first-place Atlanta Braves by seven games.
They also resumed their habit of failing to support Stephen Strasburg, whose ERA dropped to 2.97 to go with his 5-7 record.
The two-run homer by Ramirez accounted for the right-hander's only runs allowed over seven innings, and he retired the last 11 batters he faced, but the Nationals failed to score when they had the bases loaded with none out against Dodgers starter Ricky Nolasco in the fourth inning.