Kazmir defeats Nats, cramps with special remedy

Lefty strikes out eight over seven innings for eighth victory

Kazmir defeats Nats, cramps with special remedy

WASHINGTON -- When Scott Kazmir suffered cramps in both legs in the fifth inning of Tuesday's 8-4 win over the Nationals, it looked like his outing could be over early. So the pitcher turned to a secret antidote: spicy mustard and pickle juice.

After drinking "everything under the sun," in hopes of fighting off cramps, Kazmir remained in the game and finished off an impressive seven-inning outing.

Facing a tough Washington lineup, Kazmir allowed only four hits and one run while striking out eight. Just as importantly for a beaten-up Dodgers team, he lasted seven innings, for his second-longest outing of the season, while throwing only 85 pitches.

"Kaz has a lot of fight in him, and with what we're going through, guys have got to step up," manager Dave Roberts said. "And today was a great outing by Kaz. Everything was working. He had command of everything."

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By any measure, Tuesday was one of Kazmir's best starts of 2016. Not only did he last longer than usual, he went without a walk for only the third time this year, and his eight strikeouts tied for his third-highest total of the season. The outing dropped his ERA from 4.52 to 4.30, the lowest it has been since he allowed six runs on April 10.

And yet the outing almost ended prematurely. Kazmir was 4 1/3 innings into a muggy evening when Danny Espinosa hit a comebacker that the pitcher jumped for awkwardly, causing his right calf to cramp up. On the very next pitch, he felt a cramp in his left leg. Two pitches after that, Jose Lobaton launched a home run.

"I felt like I was cruising, really had good control of all my pitches, and then that happened, and I felt like, 'here we go again,'" said Kazmir, who has struggled with cramps in the past.

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But the lefty escaped the inning and returned to the clubhouse for treatment. There, he was served various substances of healing power.

"I had an electrolyte drink, pickle juice, some spicy mustard," Kazmir said. "And it worked. Normally you get cramps like that and there's no turning back, but a little remedy, it got me right."

When Kazmir returned to the field for the sixth, teammate Justin Turner asked why he had something yellow on his face. Kazmir wiped off the mustard and promptly set down the Nats in order, then pitched a scoreless seventh, cramp-free.

The Dodgers' bullpen sputtered in the eighth, but Kazmir and the offense had built an unassailable lead. Los Angeles held on to win, marking the team's fifth straight win in a game started by Kazmir.

Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.