LOS ANGELES -- Left-hander Clayton Kershaw proved to be too much for the Nationals, who were edged by the Dodgers, 3-2, at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.
The Nationals collected only three hits against last year's Cy Young Award winner in his eight innings. One of those hits came in the sixth inning, a two-run homer by Adam LaRoche to make it a one-run game.
"I don't think that's where he wanted it -- to leave it up and in like that" LaRoche said. "Against a guy like that, it's straight grind mode -- trying to put the barrel on something. You hope he makes a mistake. He is one of those pitchers that is effectively wild. He can throw one up under your chin, and just as easily throw one down and away in the same at-bat. ... When he is on, good luck."
Other than LaRoche's long ball, Kershaw was dominating. He struck out six batters on the way to his 12th straight win at Dodger Stadium. Outside of the sixth inning, the Nationals had runners in scoring position twice against Kershaw with less than two outs, but couldn't take advantage of the situation.
"He made a lot of quality pitches. He crowded right-handed hitters all night. We weren't able to hit the ball real hard," manager Davey Johnson said.
Left-hander Ross Detwiler started for Washington, and his outing wasn't bad. He pitched six innings, allowing three runs on five hits. Detwiler had a tough time stopping Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, who went a combined 4-for-6 against the southpaw.
"They are [two] of the best in the big leagues. It's always going to be tough to pitch to those guys," Detwiler said.
In fact, it was Kemp and Ethier who did the damage against Detwiler in the first inning. After getting two quick outs, Detwiler allowed a single to Kemp. Ethier followed, swung at a 1-0 pitch, and hit the ball over the right-field wall for a two-run homer.
"They are on fire," Johnson said. "Hitters like that are carrying their ballclub. We made mistakes to them. It was a curveball on the inside half to Ethier, and he jumped all over it. He got ahead of Kemp, but you can't throw him down. That's where Det kept throwing it. It was a tough ballgame."
Said Detwiler on the Ethier homer, "I was trying to throw a strike there. I would have liked to be on the outside of the plate, not the inside of the plate, but he was out in front of it. Being the hitter that he is, he hit a home run."
Detwiler would retire the next seven hitters he faced. He then ran into trouble in the fourth inning. With runners on second and third and two outs, Juan Uribe hit a grounder to shortstop Ian Desmond, who was unable to get Uribe at first base. It allowed Kemp to score the eventual winning run.
"I had to battle," Detwiler said. "I hate putting my team down early. That is the toughest thing -- giving up first-inning runs. The defense really stayed behind me. It gave me a lot more confidence."
"Every game is important," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "The Nationals are playing really well, and are a lot like us. Every out and run is important. It is fun to play in games like this."
The Nationals have now lost two straight games and dropped their record to 14-6. They hope to get back to their winning ways when the Bryce Harper era begins on Saturday evening.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.