14-K gold: Kershaw dazzles in DC

14-K gold: Kershaw dazzles in DC

WASHINGTON -- Dominant is the best way to describe Clayton Kershaw's performance in Game 2 on Saturday in a 4-2 victory over the Nationals at Nationals Park. The Nats won Friday's suspended game, 5-3, earlier in the day.

Kershaw was in the zone, allowing three hits and striking out a season-high 14 batters with no walks over eight innings. The Nationals had runners in scoring position only once when Kershaw was on the hill, and that occurred in the sixth inning when Danny Espinosa reached on an infield single and went to second on an error by third baseman Justin Turner.

"He went out there like the MVP that he is," Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said about Kershaw. "He was pretty devastating. We tried to go in there and did what we could. I think he is the best pitcher in baseball. He is pretty tough."

Nationals starter Doug Fister was handed his fifth loss of the season. He threw 91 pitches and was out of the game after five innings. Yasiel Puig drove in two of the four runs against Fister with singles. Harper got the Nats on the board with a two-run homer off Kenley Jansen in the ninth.

Mr. MVP: In his first start since the All-Star break, Kershaw picked up right where he left off. He struck out two Nationals in every inning he pitched except the eighth. Over his last four starts, Kershaw has thrown 31 innings, striking out 43 and walking two while allowing two earned runs.

"It looked like he had good location," manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously, all of his stuff was good. We've seen that he likes the heat a little bit. Just kind of continuing on what he's been doing his last 10, 12 [starts]."

Kershaw's 14th strikeout

More than enough: The Dodgers extended their lead to four runs with a three-run fifth. Joc Pederson was hit by a pitch and scored on Turner's RBI single, Howie Kendrick singled and crossed home on Andre Ethier's sacrifice fly and Puig's two-out single capped the damage and scored Turner.

"If we get 13 hits a day, I think we'll be all right," Mattingly said.

Puig's second RBI single

Helpless against Kershaw: The top three hitters -- Michael Taylor, Espinosa and Harper -- in the batting order struck out a combined seven times against Kershaw. Espinosa was the only one out of the three to get a hit off the lefty -- an infield single in the sixth inning.

"He's the guy in their lineup, obviously," Kershaw said about Harper. "You saw it out there in the ninth inning. It takes one swing for him. I was just trying not to give up a hit."

Not in the cards for Fister: The last time Fister pitched was July 6, and the long layoff came back to haunt him against the Dodgers. He allowed four runs on nine hits, with his worst inning coming in the fifth, when he allowed three runs.

"[The long layoff] doesn't help, but I can't use that as an excuse at all," Fister said. "I stayed sharp throwing bullpens and playing catch, but it is what it is."


Williams on loss to Dodgers

"Two of the three hits were against lefties, so this guy doesn't have a future as a lefty specialist. We figured that out today." -- catcher A.J. Ellis, on Kershaw

Kershaw is the ninth pitcher to have a scoreless start of no walks and 14 or more strikeouts on the road.

In the top of the ninth with the Dodgers ahead, 4-0, Ethier grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Mattingly challenged that Ethier beat shortstop Ian Desmond's throw to first, and after a review, the call was overturned.

Ethier safe after review

Dodgers: All-Star Game starter Zack Greinke (8-2, 1.39 ERA) will head to the mound on Sunday at 10:35 a.m. PT as Los Angeles looks to take the last two games of the series and open the second half with a series win.

Nationals: Right-hander Max Scherzer (10-7, 2.11 ERA) has gone five starts without walking a batter, with his last free pass coming on June 14 against the Brewers. Scherzer will face the Dodgers for the 10th time in his career on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET. He is 2-3 with a 3.51 ERA against Los Angeles.

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.