LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jordan Zimmermann kept the Nationals in the game, holding the Los Angeles Dodgers to one run in seven innings. He just happened to be pitching against Clayton Kershaw.
And that was a matchup Zimmermann wasn’t going to win. At least not on Wednesday night.
Kershaw tied Sandy Koufax’s franchise record of six straight 200-strikeout seasons while tossing eight scoreless innings in the Dodgers’ 3-0 victory.
“He’s pretty good. Jordan is pretty good, too,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said. “It’s a (product) of who you’re facing sometimes.”
Zimmermann (8-8) gave up two hits, struck out a season-high nine, including Adrian Gonzalez three times, and walked one.
“It just hasn’t gone my way the last couple of starts,” he said. “Everyone in here is grinding and trying to score runs. When you’ve got one of the best pitchers in the game out there, it’s not going to be easy.”
The loss dropped the Nationals 3 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East.
Kershaw (10-6) took a perfect game bid into the sixth inning, when Michael Taylor doubled to deep center field. Kershaw retired the next two batters on grounders to end the inning.
The 27-year-old left-hander struck out the side in the second to equal the mark set by Koufax from 1961-66. Koufax and Tom Seaver (1968-76) are the only pitchers in modern NL history to accomplish the feat in six or more consecutive seasons.
Kershaw is unbeaten in his last seven starts and he reached double-digit wins for the sixth straight year. The reigning Cy Young Award winner and league MVP gave up three hits and struck out eight in a game that lasted 2:20.
Anthony Rendon singled leading off the seventh and Taylor singled in the eighth for the only other hits off Kershaw. The Nationals dropped the season series 4-2 after getting outscored 8-0 in the last two games.
“I just tried to stick with my game plan and not do too much,” Taylor said. “The first at-bat I was late on the fastball, so I thought I’d try to shorten up on my swing and get in a good position.”
Kenley Jansen retired the side in the ninth to earn his 22nd save in 23 chances.
Pinch-hitter Andre Ethier extended the Dodgers’ lead to 3-0 in the eighth. He doubled to deep right field and second baseman Rendon’s throwing error allowed Ethier and Joc Pedersen, who was hit by a pitch, to score.
Carl Crawford’s RBI single with two outs in the third gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead after Zimmermann was called for a balk.
Kershaw was backed by two sparkling plays from Kike Hernandez, who played shortstop after Jimmy Rollins wasn’t in the starting lineup. Hernandez bobbled a ball hit by Bryce Harper with two outs in the third, but recovered and threw to first base in time.
After Taylor’s double spoiled Kershaw’s perfect game, Hernandez fell going for a sharply hit ball by Yunel Escobar. He got up, did a 180-turn and fired a one-bounce throw to first that ended the inning.
Nationals: CF Denard Span, sidelined since early July because of back tightness, has been doing some throwing, running and light swinging. The team is proceeding with caution because of a minor setback Span had last week during batting practice. … RHP Davis Carpenter, who hasn’t pitched since June 5 due to shoulder inflammation, is throwing on flat ground and could have a bullpen session soon.
Dodgers: INF Justin Turner will be activated in the next couple days off the 15-day DL, where he landed with a right thigh skin infection that he said was MRSA, a contagious and antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria. He got in conditioning work Wednesday.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (6-5, 4.76 ERA) starts the four-game series at San Francisco. He is 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in three career starts at AT&T Park, while never allowing more than two earned runs and striking out seven in each of his three outings.
Dodgers: RHP Mat Latos (4-8, 4.67) starts the four-game home series against Cincinnati. He is coming off a loss last weekend in Pittsburgh in which he allowed six runs and seven hits in four innings while not having a strikeout.
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