Clayton Kershaw pitched six innings of five-hit ball to win an outstanding duel with Max Scherzer, and the Los Angeles Dodgers swept three games from the Washington Nationals with a 3-0 victory Sunday.
Rookie Zach McKinstry homered and drove in all three runs for the defending World Series champion Dodgers, who are off to a major league-best start of 8-2 despite playing this series without injured former MVP outfielders Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger.
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Kershaw (2-1) struck out six with no walks in his first home start since winning his first World Series ring. The Dodgers’ longtime star barely came out ahead in the fourth career matchup between these two three-time Cy Young Award winners, who have 352 combined victories — 177 for Kershaw and 175 for Scherzer.
Scherzer (0-1) was just as good as Kershaw, pitching six innings of three-hit ball with five strikeouts and a walk. McKinstry drove in the sole run during the starters’ duel with a fortunate double in the second inning when Victor Robles lost his long fly ball in the sun.
McKinstry added the second homer of his big league career in the seventh, a two-run shot off reliever Tanner Rainey, giving the 25-year-old rookie a team-leading 10 RBIs this season.
Kenley Jansen pitched a flawless ninth for his second save.
Trea Turner had three hits for the Nationals, who are 1-5 after starting the season late and short-handed due to coronavirus woes. Washington was shut out for the third time in four games, including twice at Dodger Stadium.
Both Kershaw and Scherzer have posted winning records in 11 consecutive seasons, the longest active streaks in the majors. With his victory, Kershaw improved to 177-77 in his career, becoming only the ninth pitcher to go 100 games over .500 since divisional play began in 1969.
Max Muncy got a leadoff single in the second and eventually scored when Robles lost McKinstry’s fly ball to the center field wall in the hazy LA afternoon sun.
Scherzer stayed in his groove and retired the next 10 consecutive Dodgers, but his teammates couldn’t crack Kershaw and the LA bullpen.
Kershaw wasn’t as overpowering as Scherzer, but he kept Washington scoreless with precision and guile. With his final pitch, he struck out Jordy Mercer on a full-count slider well below the strike zone to end the sixth, stranding Turner on second and earning yet another standing ovation from the mini-sellout crowd of 15,049.
Washington’s first two batters in the eighth singled off Blake Treinen, but Juan Soto flied out to shallow center on a 3-0, letter-high pitch while Treinen escaped the jam.
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Nationals: Manager Dave Martinez hopes LHP Jon Lester, 1B Josh Bell, 2B Josh Harrison and OF Kyle Schwarber can be reinstated from the injured list by Monday. They’ve been out all season under COVID-19 protocols. Their returns to the field likely won’t happen simultaneously as they ramp up their preparation, however.
Dodgers: Betts, who received his fourth Silver Slugger aware pregame, missed the series with back stiffness. Roberts doesn’t believe the problem is serious or chronic, and Betts hasn’t had a painkilling injection. “The training staff is encouraging him to stay active, swing the bat, run, play catch,” Roberts said. “He’ll get treatment on the day off, and then we’ll see where we’re at.”
Nationals: Eric Fedde (0-1, 27.00 ERA) takes the mound Monday at Busch Stadium when Washington opens a three-game series against the Cardinals.
Dodgers: After a day off, Trevor Bauer (1-0, 4.15 ERA) makes his home debut Tuesday when the Dodgers open a three-game series with Colorado.