LOS ANGELES -- Eric Gagne graciously passed the baton Monday night when Kenley Jansen displaced him as the Dodgers' career saves leader.
"I'm happy for Kenley," Gagne said in a text after the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw beat the Nationals (without Stephen Strasburg), 4-1. "He's so deserving of it and I hope he gets a lot more as a Dodger. The fans deserve it, and so does he."
Gagne congratulated Jansen by phone after the game and will do it in person Tuesday night at a pregame ceremony to mark the achievement. Gagne, who last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2008 and tried to come back with the Dodgers in '10, spent this Spring Training serving as a Dodgers pitching instructor.
Jansen, 28, began his professional career out of Curacao as a catcher in '05. He remembers watching Gagne unleash his three-year reign of terror on the National League from '02-'04, saving 142 games.
"I remember him growing up," said Jansen. "He's got to be in the top five of history. I just feel great. It's a tremendous honor to pass a guy like that. That guy was awesome."
And, Jansen admits, it was a bit of a burden to get it done. He blew two games in San Francisco two weekends ago and has been breathing fire ever since.
"I've been thinking about it a little, to be honest," said Jansen. "I'm glad it's over."
With Joe Blanton serving as the bridge, Jansen's save was the 33rd in a Kershaw win. It also made him the first Dodgers reliever to string five consecutive seasons with at least 20 saves.
"I didn't know about that one until you said it, but I'll take it," said Jansen.
After the traditional line of handshakes in the infield when the game ended, the entire Dodgers bullpen surrounded Jansen to congratulate him.
"Amazing," said J.P. Howell. "I've seen four years of it and seeing the growth and everything he's had to go through to get there, his job was at risk at times early through that, he's overcome a lot of things. Everyone loves him here. He's such a good teammate, he's so good too. He's a guy that wants the ball every day. Not everyone has that."
Jansen has saved 33 of Kershaw's wins. This one came in stifling heat, with Kershaw improving to 11-1 with a 1.57 ERA, including a nine-game win streak this year and an eight-game win streak against Washington.
"We've been spoiled," Kershaw said of Jansen's consistency. "It just feels like when the ninth inning rolls around, we have a win. You can't take that for granted. I'm happy for him, he's had a great career here so far and hopefully a lot more to come."
Manager Dave Roberts, who played behind standout closers Trevor Hoffman and Brian Wilson as well as Gagne, complimented his current closer.
"To say I was teammates with Eric and to have Kenley break that Dodgers all-time saves record, at home, and to be a small, small part [of it]. ... I know Kenley's proud, for him, his family," said Roberts, whose club has won six of its last seven.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.