In a game that started at an oppressively warm 96 degrees in Los Angeles, the Dodgers were able to stay hot, with Clayton Kershaw and the usual suspects delivering a 4-1 victory over the Nationals in the opener of a three-game series on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
The win was the fourth straight for the Dodgers, who at 39-33 are six games over .500 for the first time all season.
Kershaw was his dominant self on Monday, not even allowing a Nationals runner to reach second base until the sixth inning. It was during that frame when Michael Taylor doubled with one out, but Kershaw struck out Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper to end the threat.
Harper found it especially tough against Kershaw, striking out all three times against him on Monday night. In his career, Harper is 1-for-15 with 10 strikeouts against Kershaw, though the one hit was a home run.
It was the seventh inning when the long, hot night began to exact its toll on Kershaw, and three of the first four hitters singled to score a run. One loud out later, a wild pitch put both runners — the tying runs — into scoring position. But before this could devolve into 2014 NLDS-like heat, Kershaw cooled off the rally by getting old friend Chris Heisey to fly out to end the threat.
Kershaw was able to beat Washington for an eighth straight start, allowing six total runs during that span.
Kershaw threw 106 pitches in his seven innings, allowing just the one run, with eight strikeouts and zero walks, the eighth time in 15 starts he hasn't issued a free pass this season. Kershaw added to his major league lead in strikeouts, now at 141, and with just seven walks on the season brought his absurd strikeout to walk ratio over 20-to-1 again.
In fact, even if you exclude all eight starts in 2016 in which Kershaw didn't issue a walk, his 59 remaining strikeouts and seven walks would give him the second best strikeout-to-walk ratio (8.43) in MLB, only narrowly behind Noah Syndergaard of the Mets (8.83).
Kenley Jansen retired the side in order in the ninth inning for his 20th save of the year, and 162nd in his career, setting the Dodgers' all-time franchise record, surpassing Eric Gagne.
Bat man Turner overdrive
Nobody has been hotter at the plate for the Dodgers in the last two weeks or so than Justin Turner, and he continued that on Monday night. He hit a solo home run in the first inning, his seventh in his last 13 games. Those seven home runs set a new personal best for a single month for Turner, whose previous high was six home runs last June.
Turner also singled home a run in the fourth inning, and extended his hitting streak to eight games, including five multi-hit games. During the streak, Turner is 14-for-29 (.467).
Both hits came against fill-in starter Yusmeiro Petit, against whom Turner in his career is 4-for-6 with three home runs, a walk and eight RBI.
All things considered, Petit did an admirable job for someone who didn't now he would be starting until about an hour before game time, subbing in for an injured Stephen Strasburg. a Petit allowed three runs but got through six innings, in his first start since May 23, 2015.
Corey Seager was the runner who scored from second base in the fourth inning, thanks to a ground rule double to left field. For good measure, Seager doubled again in the sixth inning, this one to left center.
Seager on the season now has 16 doubles to go with his 15 home runs, and through 72 team games the season isn't even half over. The Dodgers' franchise record for home runs hit as a shortstop in a season is 19, and only six times (since 1913) has a Dodgers shortstop reached 30 doubles.
Joc's hot, too
The Dodgers added another run in the fifth inning when Joc Pederson hit a towering home run down the right field line, nearly into the Loge level. The solo shot was the 13th of the season for Pederson, and his fifth home run in his last nine games, hitting 10-for-32 (.313) during that span.
Home runs: Justin Turner (10), Joc Pederson (13)
WP - Clayton Kershaw (11-1): 7 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 8 strikeouts
LP - Yusmeiro Petit (2-1): 6 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (20): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts