LOS ANGELES -- It was supposed be the marquee matchup of the week between Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg on Monday night at Dodger Stadium. But before the game, Strasburg was scratched because of an upper back strain and the Nationals gave the ball to right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, who delivered a quality outing in a 4-1 loss to the Dodgers.
Petit threw six innings and allowed three runs on five hits, two coming on solo homers by Justin Turner and Joc Pederson. It marked first time Petit threw as many as six innings in an outing since May 23, 2015 against the Rockies.
"I wanted to make sure that the bullpen was saved for this outing," Petit said. "I felt like I did my job and gave the team as much of a chance to stay in the game. My main priority was to make sure the bullpen was able to get some rest. I tried to eat up as many innings as possible."
Even Strasburg was impressed with Petit's outing.
"That's kind of been his calling card in his career. He did a great job out there," Strasburg said. "I was trying to make the right decision -- didn't want to go out there and go a couple innings and feel like I couldn't go any longer and have him come out of the bullpen. So at least we were able to make a decision before the start of the game so he could get ready properly."
The outing from Petit reminded manager Dusty Baker of Al Downing, a former teammate who could go weeks without starting and then show the resilience of having a quality start.
"He did a great job," Baker said about Petit. "There aren't many guys that can do what he did. The last guy that I played with was Al Downing , who would not start for two months and then come in and throw 95 pitches. [Petit's] arm is very resilient."
Petit found out just before batting practice that he would start.
"That's part of my job. I have to be ready for a situation like today. That's what I've been doing in the past in my career," Petit said. "So I have to be prepared whenever I'm needed like the situation that came up tonight. I just go out and do my job." '
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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.