LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw outdueled Jordan Zimmermann as the Dodgers eked out a 3-0 win over the Nationals on Wednesday night in the series finale at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw was dominant from the opening pitch. The reigning National League MVP and Cy Young winner struck out eight and allowed just three hits over eight innings while turning in his fifth scoreless effort in his last six starts. Carl Crawford had an RBI single in the third inning off Zimmermann, and the Dodgers scored two runs against Drew Storen in the eighth, when Andre Ethier's pinch-hit double led to an errant relay throw from second baseman Anthony Rendon.
"It seemed like everything was sharp tonight," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Kershaw. "Tonight it looked like it came out easy and he was able to use all of his pitches."
Zimmermann nearly matched Kershaw, but was stuck with the loss regardless. He tossed seven innings, allowing just two hits, but the Nationals couldn't pick him up at the plate. The right-hander struck out nine and pounded the strike zone, firing 71 of his 93 pitches for strikes. His lone walk, to Joc Pederson, led to the only run he allowed.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Taylor breaks up perfect game: Kershaw didn't allow his first baserunner until the sixth inning, when Michael Taylor, the Nationals' No. 8 hitter, jumped on a first pitch fastball for a one-out double off the center-field wall.
"Not really. Not at all," Kershaw said when asked whether anything changes when he's throwing a perfect game. More >
Overmatched by Kershaw: Rendon singled in the seventh and Taylor singled in the eighth, but those were the only other hits against Kershaw. When Taylor doubled in the sixth, it was the only time Washington had a runner in scoring position.
"His fastball and everything kind of gets on you," Taylor said. "He has good movement with everything. For the most part, everything comes out looking the same. It makes it tough."
Zimmermann fantastic: Zimmermann twirled a two-hit gem with a season-high nine strikeouts, but he ended up losing his third straight decision. Other than the walk to Pederson, his only mistake came with Pederson on first base, when he rushed a pitch to the plate and balked while throwing a pitch to Crawford, who was given a free swing on the play.
"The rule is you teach the young players that if the umpires call a balk, go ahead and swing. It's a free swing and Crawford was able to get one down the line," manager Matt Williams said. More >
Crawford provides the offense: The only support Kershaw needed came in the third inning. With two outs, Crawford hit a slicing single into the left-field corner to drive in Pederson from second base. Crawford finished 3-for-4 in his first start as the leadoff hitter this season.
"Obviously, I never should have thrown the pitch. Nothing good comes out of that. I did. Crawford was able to get the base hit," Zimmermann said.
"It was a good night. They hit a lot of balls hard. I had a lot working in my favor tonight." -- Kershaw
"How many games left? I feel [the media] are the ones that are worried about us. Don't worry about us. You worry about yourselves. We'll be all right." -- Rendon, on the Nationals being 3 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: Stephen Strasburg takes the mound on Thursday at 10:15 p.m. ET in Washington's series opener in San Francisco. In his last start, the right-hander was a man on a mission, as the Nationals downed the Rockies, 6-1, Saturday night at Nationals Park. It was Strasburg's best outing of the season. He pitched seven innings, allowed one run on three hits and struck out a season-high 12 batters.
Dodgers:The Dodgers continue their seven-game homestand with the first of four games against the Reds at Dodger Stadium at 7:10 p.m. PT on Thursday. Mat Latos will be on the mound, looking for his first win with Los Angeles. Latos, a former Red, is 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts since his trade from Miami.