Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON -- Before Tuesday's game, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts reported that star pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who is on the disabled list, had a setback and is not sure when he will pitch again.
After the game Roberts was praising another Los Angeles pitcher who doesn't throw as hard as Kershaw but has certainly been effective in the past few weeks.
Scott Kazmir allowed just four hits and one run in seven innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 8-4. Kazmir, who overcame cramps in his legs in the fifth inning, has not been beaten in his last 12 starts and gave his team a boost as Kershaw remains on the West Coast.
"It was big. Kaz has a lot of fight," Roberts said. "With what we are going through, guys have to step up. And it starts with starting pitching. It was what we needed."
The veteran Kazmir certainly did that against a starting lineup that featured five lefty swingers. Bryce Harper was 0-for-3 against Kazmir and 0-for-4 overall as his average dropped to .248.
"It was pretty muggy out there," said Kazmir, who felt a twinge in his right calf and then his left one. "It was frustrating but I ended up getting outs."
Kazmir drank lots of fluids in the top of the sixth. "Pickle juice and mustard," he said, adding that what he took worked.
The Dodgers are now 12-6 since Kershaw went on the DL. The soft-tossing Kazmir (8-3), who fanned eight, has not lost since May 9.
"It is a credit to our guys," Roberts said. "I think our guys are focused on doing a little more individually. We have a long way to go."
While Kazmir was able to retire batters with off-speed pitches in the high 70s, his teammates battered the upper 90 mph offerings of Reynaldo Lopez (0-1) early as he made his major league debut.
"He can get away with more because he's almost throwing 100. That's what the reports are," Washington manager Dusty Baker said before the game of Lopez.
Maybe so, but Lopez allowed 10 hits and six runs in 4 2/3 innings before he left to a nice ovation from the sellout crowd.
"The kid threw the ball pretty good. He had good command of the strike zone. We had to let him go as long as he did because of the 18-inning game," Baker said after the loss. "You can tell his future is very bright. We just have to tighten up a few things, but you can tell he will be here for a long time."
Said Lopez, through a translator: "I felt like the location of the fastball was very good, but they were anticipating the fastball, so once I started mixing up my pitches I did better."
Chase Utley had three hits and three RBIs, including a leadoff homer, and his RBI single in the eighth inning off reliever Blake Treinen to boosted the lead to 7-1. But Washington's Trea Turner had a two-run triple in the bottom of the eighth off Chris Hatcher to make it 7-3 before left-hander Adam Liberatore came on to pitch for the Dodgers.
Liberatore gave up an RBI double to Daniel Murphy -- who just missed a homer -- with one out as the Nationals trimmed the margin to 7-4, but he then retired Jayson Werth and Harper.
Yasmani Grandal homered in the ninth for the Dodgers off Shawn Kelley to make it 8-4. Closer Kenley Jansen pitched the bottom of the ninth in a non-save situation.
The Dodgers (53-42) have won all four games this year against the NL East-leading Nationals (56-38), who have lost five of their last nine home games
Howie Kendrick, hitting behind Utley, had two hits and two RBIs and No. 3 hitter Justin Turner contributed three hits and two RBIs as the top three hitters in the Los Angeles lineup combined for eight hits and five runs.
It was a pride-swallowing debut for Lopez, ranked as the No. 92 prospect in the minors by Baseball America.
His third big league pitch -- a fastball on a 1-1 count -- was lofted over the fence in right by Utley for a homer and a 1-0 Dodgers lead.
Joc Pederson, just off the disabled list, had a two-run single later in the inning to make it 3-0. And Utley added an RBI single in the second off Lopez to make it 4-0.
The 22-year-old Lopez flashed his stuff in the third as he struck out the side, the last punchout coming on a 79 mph curveball to Yasiel Puig.
But the Dodgers built the margin to 6-0 against Lopez after Adrian Gonzalez and Puig had RBI singles in the fifth.
Kazmir gave up a solo homer in the fifth to Jose Lobaton to make the score 6-1. That came one batter after Kazmir landed strangely as he jumped for a tapper off the bat of Danny Espinosa on a groundout.
NOTES: Dodgers SS Corey Seager, hitting .301 with 17 homers, was not in the starting lineup because of a stomach virus, according to manager Dave Roberts. ... The Nationals placed LHP Sammy Solis on the 15-day disabled list to clear room on the roster for RHP Reynaldo Lopez, who made his big league debut Tuesday. ... The Dodgers reinstated OF Joc Pederson from the 15-day disabled list, recalled LHP Luis Avilan from Triple-A Oklahoma City and placed RHP Casey Fien (retroactive to July 17) and LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (retroactive to July 9) on the 15-day disabled list with elbow tendinitis. ... Roberts said LHP Clayton Kershaw, who has been on the disabled list since June 27 and remains in California, will not pitch in the Washington series. "Clayton is doing everything he can to get back," Roberts said. ... This series features the only two African-American managers in the majors: Dusty Baker of the Nationals and Roberts. Baker is in his 21st year as a big league skipper, Roberts his first. Both played for the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, among other teams. ... RHP Abel de Los Santos, who pitched in two games for the Nationals in 2015, was claimed off waivers from Washington by the Cincinnati Reds.