Los Angeles

Clayton Kershaw Stops Losing Streak as Dodgers Defeat Nationals 2-1

Clayton Kershaw allowed just three hits and the Los Angeles Dodgers avoided the sweep and snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday afternoon at the Ravine.

Just call him the showstopper.

Clayton Kershaw allowed just three hits and the Los Angeles Dodgers avoided the sweep, and snapped a three-game losing streak, with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday afternoon at the Ravine.

The marquee matinee matchup featured a pitching duel between two of the best flame throwers in the game as Kershaw went toe-to-toe with Washington starter Stephen Strasburg.

It was the first time the two aces had gone against each other after Strasburg was scratched from a start at Dodger Stadium last season in what would have been the first pitcher's duel between the two.

Ryan Zimmeran got the Nats on the board in the second inning when he hit a leadoff home run to the short porch in left field to give Washington a 1-0 lead.

"He's obviously the best hitter in the national league right now," Kershaw said of the Zimmerman homer. "First pitch of that inning, I thought I could sneak a strike in there, I bet he was expecting it and it was an impressive swing for sure."

Zimmerman has been on a tear this season, leading the majors in batting average (.364), and the NL in home runs with 17. 

Despite leading the league in ERA, Kershaw has been susceptible to the long ball this season.

Zimmerman's homer was the 12th home run he's allowed this season, most on the Dodgers pitching staff this season, and most he's allowed in the last five season.

By comparison, Kershaw only allowed eight home runs all of last season, and just four at this point in the season in 2016.

Like a meteor, Strasburg burned through the Dodgers for the first five innings before surrendering a solo shot to Corey Seager with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.

"He was really good all game," said Seager of Strasburg. "I was looking for something out of the plate and fortunately, I got one."

After quickly retiring the first two hitters to start the inning, Strasburg was bitten by the bad luck bug when he served up a fastball to the reigning NL Rookie of the Year that tied the game. 

One batter later, he had appeared to strike out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning, but the ball got away from Jose Lobaton, and rolled to the backstop, allowing Gonzalez to advance to first.

One pitch later, Gonzalez advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI double by Yasmani Grandal to give the Dodgers the lead.

"It was nice for it to balance it out a little bit," said Roberts of the Dodgers' luck that inning and lack of luck in the loss the night prior. "They got some breaks this series and they cashed in. It was a big two-out from Yaz [Grandal]." 

Washington almost tied the game in the top of the eighth after a leadoff triple by Trea Turner, but Dodgers' reliever Pedro Baez wiggled out of the jam by fielding a comebacker from Bryce Harper and catching Turner in a rundown at the plate.

"Ironically, we just practiced that play two days ago," said Kenley Jansen of Baez's play. "It paid off. Baez was a great third baseman and it was a great play by him. It was a game saver."

Strasburg (7-2), took the loss allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in six strong innings of work.

"I thought I executed really well today," Strasburg said of his outing. "The ball just didn't bounce our way today. It's part of baseball. Tip your cap."

Strasburg recorded his 1,166th strikeout in the first inning, tied for the most strikeouts in MLB history by a starting pitcher in their first 1000 innings.

Kershaw (8-2) is now tied for the NL-lead in wins after allowing one run on three hits with three walks and nine strikeouts.

"It is what it is," Kershaw said of coming out after seven innings despite batting for himself. "We were fortunate to get a win there and salvage the series."

In his last seven starts, Kershaw is 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA and has struck out 57 batters against just 11 walks.

Kenley Jansen entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and recorded his fifth save of four-outs or more. It was his 10th on the season and 199th of his career and 18th of the four-plus variety, the fifth most among active pitchers.

"I'm used to it by now," Jansen said of the multiple four-plus out saves this season. "I make sure to take care of my body and do all the stuff I need to do off the field and it's paying off. I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing."

With the win, Los Angeles still has yet to be swept in a series this season.

Up Next:

The Dodgers will have an off day on Thursday before opening up a three-game series with Rich Hill expected to start on Friday against the Cincinnati Reds at 7:10PM PST.

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