Error, tough loss sting for Nats' Taylor

Error, tough loss sting for Nats' Taylor

LOS ANGELES -- Michael Taylor sat at his locker, still dressed in his full uniform, and no doubt still processing the closing moments of the worst game of his career. The fact that he went 0-for-5 at the plate with five strikeouts was only the beginning of a forgettable evening.

In a one-run game in the bottom of the ninth inning, with a runner on first, Taylor misplayed a base hit by Yasiel Puig that rolled under his glove and to the wall in center field. Howie Kendrick came around to score from first base, followed quickly behind by Puig to seal a stunning 4-3 Dodgers victory.

Taylor stood in center field and stared for a moment before making the slow, lonely walk back to the dugout, as the Dodgers dugout emptied and celebrated at home plate and the crowd of 43,776 at Dodger Stadium erupted in jubilation.

"0-for-5 I can handle," Taylor said. "When I do something like that to cost the team the game, that's pretty tough."

Puig's single bounced just past the diving glove of Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa, that close to a potential game-ending double play. Right-hander Shawn Kelley was on his way to back up third base, and never saw Taylor miss the ball, but instead noticed Dodgers third-base coach Bob Woodward starting to wave Kendrick home.

Woodward put up a stop sign for Puig, however, although Puig ran straight through it -- crediting his legs for the making the decision to go home -- and dashed for the plate. Left fielder Jayson Werth reached the ball at the wall and threw to second baseman Daniel Murphy, but he double clutched and never threw the ball to the plate as Puig slid toward the plate headfirst.

Puig, Dodgers' amazing walk-off

"Nobody thought the ball would go through," Puig said through an interpreter. "So when I did see the ball go through, I had to talk to my hamstring so I could figure out far I could go on the bases."

It handed the Nationals their season-worst fifth consecutive loss and a sweep at Dodger Stadium.

Taylor had been experiencing progress at the plate recently, settling into his role as the fourth outfielder. He entered Wednesday's game with a hit in 18 consecutive starts since May 3, batting .329 with three homers during that span. And he is normally a sure-handed center fielder, and starter Joe Ross called him one of the best center fielders he has ever had play behind him.

"I know this isn't the player that I am," Taylor said. "Just a bad day."

Baker on Nationals' 4-3 loss

But the fact that his error was so uncharacteristic made his error more stunning, but not any easier to handle.

"Every outfielder's done that," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "Look up prematurely and don't watch the ball into your glove, that's happened to us all.

"I'm sure he feels terrible. We got to stay with him. We got to give him some love because right now he's probably feeling like the loneliest guy on earth."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.