Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg, who took a perfect game into the fifth, allowed only three hits and one earned run across six strong innings. He struck out 10 and walked none.
Dodgers veteran pitcher Clayton Kershaw gave up three earned runs in the first two innings but settled down later in the contest. He allowed six hits in six innings, striking out four and walking one.
Washington second baseman Howie Kendrick gave the Nationals a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI single off Kershaw.
Los Angeles, limited to five hits in the game, got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth. Third baseman Justin Turner scored Matt Beaty on a sacrifice fly to cut the Dodgers' deficit to 3-1.
In the next inning, Max Muncy blasted a 413-foot solo home run to trim the lead to 3-2. Nationals pinch hitter Asdrubal Cabrera answered in the eighth with an RBI single, giving Washington a two-run lead headed into the final two innings.
Game 3 of the best-of-five series is scheduled for Sunday night at Nationals Park.