WASHINGTON D.C. (AP) — Clayton Kershaw injected some normalcy into what had been a strange 24 hours at Nationals Park.
Kershaw continued his mastery of the Nationals, striking out a season-high 14 in eight shutout innings and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated Washington 4-2 to earn a split of the two games decided Saturday.
Hours earlier, pinch-hitter Matt den Dekker lined a two-run homer in the eighth inning that lifted the Nationals over the Dodgers 5-3 in the completion of a game suspended a day earlier after the fifth because of a lighting malfunction.
The scheduled game belonged to Kershaw.
“Looking back, it’s probably as close as I remember his stuff being to his no-hitter day last June,” catcher A.J. Ellis said. “Both breaking balls (curveball and slider) were just so dominant.”
Kershaw (7-6), coming off a shutout of the Phillies, scattered three singles and didn’t walk a batter.
“I think more than anything I was just able to throw all three pitches,” Kershaw said. “I think I threw probably the best slider I’ve had all year. So that’s definitely encouraging.”
The lefty has won six straight starts against Washington, fashioning a 0.96 ERA in the process.
Bryce Harper struck three times against Kershaw, but hit a two-run homer in the ninth off reliever Kenley Jansen. It was Harper’s 27th of the season.
“He put on a clinic today … He was pretty devastating,” said Harper, who is now 1 for 9 with six strikeouts against Kershaw in his career. “He’s the best pitcher in baseball. It’s pretty tough.”
Doug Fister (3-5) allowed four runs on nine hits over five innings.
Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa left the game after diving for Adrian Gonzalez’s single in the ninth. Nationals manager Matt Williams said Espinosa suffered cramps in both legs.
Gonzalez and Justin Turner each got three hits in the win, and Yasiel Puig drove in two runs for the Dodgers.
Gonzalez hit two home runs in the game that began Friday night and ended Saturday afternoon.
The Dodgers gave Kershaw a 1-0 lead on three consecutive singles in the second, the last coming on Puig’s infield hit that deflected off Fister.
In the fifth, Turner and Puig sandwiched RBI singles around Andre Ethier’s sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.
Kershaw finished by retiring 17 of the last 18 batters he faced.
“Unfortunately, I’ve seen that way too much,” Williams said. “He establishes strikes and then goes down and out of the zone.”
The series opener was delayed three times Friday night by a bank of lights on the third base side that kept going out, and finally stopped with Washington ahead 3-2. The Nationals said Saturday that a faulty circuit breaker caused the outage.
When the suspended game resumed, Gonzalez hit his second homer of the game, a tying shot in the sixth.
Den Dekker hit his second homer of the season and the first of his career as a pinch hitter. The two-out drive into the second deck came against Pedro Baez (2-2).
Yunel Escobar homered and doubled twice for Washington.
Casey Janssen (1-2) pitched one inning, and Drew Storen picked up his 28th save.
Nationals: INF Anthony Rendon (left quadriceps strain) was scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment Saturday night for Class A Potomac, according to Williams. … OF Jayson Werth (broken left wrist) was slated to play the outfield in his third game with Potomac. … 1B Ryan Zimmerman (left foot plantar fasciitis) took batting and infield practice prior to the game.
Dodgers: RHP Zack Greinke (8-2, 1.39 ERA), the major league ERA leader, pitches the series finale in a matchup of NL All-Stars. Greinke is 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA in five career starts versus Washington.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (10-7, 2.11 ERA) is 2-3 with a 3.51 ERA in nine games, including seven starts, against the Dodgers.
The teams were allowed to add a 26th player for Saturday’s regularly scheduled game. The Dodgers brought up RHP Zach Lee from Oklahoma City. Washington recalled RHP Taylor Jordan from Syracuse.
Ellis joking about the fact that LHP Kershaw allowed two hits to left handers on Saturday said: “Two of the three hits were against lefties, so this guy doesn’t have a future as a lefty specialist. We figured that out today.”
Prior to the resumption of the suspended game, Storen tweeted; “Just as the old saying goes ‘let’s play one and a half.’
(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)