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Clayton Kershaw gives Dodgers eight strong innings in 3-2 win

Kershaw holds Washington to two runs and three hits in the first eight innings. Kershaw improves to 2-0 and the Dodgers match the Nationals' league-best mark of 14-6.

April 27, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

Closer Javy Guerra was sidelined for the night with what was described as a minor leg injury and the bullpen was short on back-end arms. The Dodgers had to get innings out of Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw responded the way he often has in these types of situations, holding the Washington Nationals to two runs and three hits in the first eight innings of the Dodgers' 3-2 victory at Dodger Stadium.

The win improved Kershaw's record to 2-0 and the Dodgers' to 14-6, which matched the Nationals' league-best mark. Kershaw has won his last 12 decisions at home; the last time he lost here was April 16 of last year.

"It was huge for us that he was able to go for as long as he did," Manager Don Mattingly said.

The little run support Kershaw received came from familiar sources: Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

Ethier hit a two-run home run in the first inning to put the Dodgers ahead, 2-0.

The man on base? Kemp, who singled one at-bat earlier.

The home run was Ethier's fifth. He and Kemp have combined for 15 of the Dodgers' 18 home runs.

Ethier now has a major league-leading 24 runs batted in, one more than Kemp.

"If I keep pace with him, I'll be fine," Ethier said. "I might not be up there in four or five categories like he is, but if I can be there for one with him, it'll be a pretty good year."

Kemp and Ethier were a combined four for six against Nationals starter Ross Detwiler, who entered the game 2-0 with a 0.56 earned-run average.

The rest of the Dodgers: one for 16.

"We need to scratch more runs out of our lineup," Mattingly said. "It would be nice for my health if we could add a run here or there, but we insist on playing one-run games."

Half of the Dodgers' 20 games have been decided by one run. They are 7-3 in such games.

Kemp's second hit came in the fourth inning, which was immediately followed by a single by Ethier.

Kemp scored on an infield hit by Juan Uribe to increase the Dodgers' lead to 3-0.

The Nationals closed the gap to 3-2 on a two-run home run by Adam LaRoche in the sixth inning. Kershaw retired the next nine batters he faced to get through the eighth inning and get the ball to closer du jour Kenley Jansen.

"I was a little erratic," Kershaw said. "I didn't have great fastball command tonight. I was able to make some pitches when I needed to."

Jansen closed in place of Guerra, whom Mattingly described as day to day with a leg injury. Guerra was struck by a line drive on the face Wednesday night. His jaw was fine, but in the process of trying to avoid the ball, Guerra twisted his right leg.

Jansen's first save wasn't free of drama. With one out in the ninth inning, Danny Espinosa literally came within a foot of sending the game into extra innings. He lined a ball into the field box seats down the right-field line, missing the foul pole by inches. Two pitches later, Espinosa lined out to center.

Mattingly said Guerra should be ready to resume closing on Saturday.

Guerra said his leg felt fine when he tested it in the bullpen before the game Friday.

"I think it was more precautionary," he said.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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