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Kershaw drops duel with Nats' Scherzer

MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- There's not much separating the careers of three-time Cy Young Award winners Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. But after getting outpitched by the Nationals' ace on Friday night at Dodger Stadium, Kershaw offered his opinion on what makes Scherzer elite.

"His fastball is dominant. His fastball is the separator for him," said Kershaw, who was beaten by Scherzer and the Nationals, 5-2. "The life and carry he has on that ball, it's really hard for me to hit, it's just a really good fastball."

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LOS ANGELES -- There's not much separating the careers of three-time Cy Young Award winners Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. But after getting outpitched by the Nationals' ace on Friday night at Dodger Stadium, Kershaw offered his opinion on what makes Scherzer elite.

"His fastball is dominant. His fastball is the separator for him," said Kershaw, who was beaten by Scherzer and the Nationals, 5-2. "The life and carry he has on that ball, it's really hard for me to hit, it's just a really good fastball."

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Scherzer's fastball touched 96 mph, Kershaw's topped out at 92. So, in a duel between two of the best pitchers of their generation, that might be one reason Scherzer has won two National League Cy Young Awards since Kershaw won his third in 2014.

While the velocity edge goes to Scherzer, he complimented Kershaw on the mental game. The mutual admiration is obvious.

"He attacks the zone, doesn't walk guys," Scherzer said. "He brings it every single time, that's just the on-surface stuff that you know is going on between his ears, that he goes out there and competes as well as anybody and attacks the zone."

Although they met in Game 1 of the 2016 NL Division Series (Kershaw won), the classic pitching matchup marked a regular-season rarity, the first between three-time Cy Young Award winners in a dozen years (Roger Clemens vs. Greg Maddux). And it was a shaky beginning for both.

Kershaw (1-3) was ambushed in a two-run first inning -- three pitches, three swings and the first run. Ryan Zimmerman was next with an RBI double and Kershaw was down, 2-0.

"That was their game plan," manager Dave Roberts said of the Nats' aggressiveness. "Knowing Clayton is a strike-thrower, get him before he gets you was their mentality. High risk, high reward."

"The deeper into the at-bat you go with him, the harder it gets, especially if he can get ahead of you," Zimmerman said. "It worked out good tonight. But he's still pretty good."

Video: WSH@LAD: Zimmerman plates Harper with an RBI double

Kershaw was charged with four runs in seven innings on nine hits, striking out only four because the Nationals wouldn't allow their at-bats to go deep enough to get to three strikes. Of the 29 batters Kershaw faced, 14 swung at the first offering.

"I usually expect that with every team; sometimes they foul off the first pitch, sometimes they don't," Kershaw said of Washington's aggressiveness. "I've got to make a better pitch to Zimmerman and get out with one run."

Kershaw retired the next 11 batters before allowing runs in the fifth and sixth innings for a 4-0 deficit.

The Dodgers -- who came into the game with a four-game win streak after breaking out offensively during a three-game sweep in San Diego -- went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, wasting Chris Taylor's triple on Scherzer's first pitch and his fifth-inning two-out double.

"More a product of who they're facing. He's pretty good," Kershaw said, forgiving an offense that's facing Scherzer. "We did the same thing [swinging early] to Max. He was able to pitch out of it. Usually you can come back from two [runs down], but it's tough against Max. I can get through seven [innings] and two [runs], but I had those two tack-ons late that you can't have. We had opportunities, Max limited the damage."

The Dodgers didn't score on Scherzer until Yasiel Puig's RBI single with two out in the sixth. Scherzer finished with nine strikeouts in six innings. The Dodgers added a run in the seventh off Washington's bullpen. They scored seven runs in Kershaw's lone win this year, but only five runs total in his other four starts. 

Video: WSH@LAD: Puig lines an RBI single to left field

In the Dodgers' first inning, Taylor's triple was followed by the first of two times Corey Seager was hit by a pitch. Runners on the corners and no outs, but hot-hitting Yasmani Grandal popped out and Scherzer fanned Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson.

"First and third, nobody out, came up empty," said Roberts. "That was a big part of the game. If we get one across, it could have been a different ballgame. Couldn't come up with the big hit."

Video: WSH@LAD: Taylor triples over Harper in bottom of 1st

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Leave 'em stranded: In addition to the missed opportunity in the first inning, the Dodgers had a two-on, one-out setup in the third with hot-hitting Yasmani Grandal up. But Scherzer induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Video: WSH@LAD: Scherzer K's nine, singles off Kershaw

Where's the bunt defense? While Washington's execution of the safety squeeze was perfect, you can't say the same for the Dodgers' defense. First baseman Bellinger charged hard, but the bunt was fielded by Kershaw, and second baseman Chase Utley had no chance to outrun Turner to first. The third run scored as Turner raced to an easy single.

"Belly and I just have to be on the same page. We can't both do the same," said Kershaw. "[Turner] is really fast, a run is going to score regardless. Just a good play by them."

Video: WSH@LAD: Turner bunts for an RBI single in the 5th

HE SAID IT
"This is a hard gauge, Scherzer." -- Roberts, on judging the Dodgers' offense on this game

Video: WSH@LAD: Roberts on loss to Nats, Scherzer's outing

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Kershaw entered the game 10-0 against the Nationals in 10 starts since 2012, including the postseason.

WHAT'S NEXT?
After dealing with Max Scherzer on Friday night, the sledding doesn't ease up on Saturday when the Dodgers face Stephen Strasburg at 6:10 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers will counter with Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is coming off his second consecutive effective start, striking out nine in six innings against San Diego.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw

Buehler? Dodgers need a replacement for Hill

Roberts coy on Monday's starter as club weighs 'couple of ideas'
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- Manager Dave Roberts wasn't ready to name Walker Buehler, Brock Stewart or anybody else to replace Rich Hill as Monday night's starting pitcher for the Dodgers against the Marlins at Dodger Stadium.

"We'll know soon enough," said Roberts before Friday's series opener agianst the Nationals. "We've got a couple of ideas. I can't say."

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LOS ANGELES -- Manager Dave Roberts wasn't ready to name Walker Buehler, Brock Stewart or anybody else to replace Rich Hill as Monday night's starting pitcher for the Dodgers against the Marlins at Dodger Stadium.

"We'll know soon enough," said Roberts before Friday's series opener agianst the Nationals. "We've got a couple of ideas. I can't say."

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Hill, placed on the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday with a split fingernail on his left middle finger, said he played catch on Friday and his finger was healed.

"I could have pitched tonight," said Hill. "No issues."

Of course, with the left-hander's history of finger blisters and wounds, it's understandable that management would err on the side of caution with Hill, who must snap his patented curveball with such torque that his fingertip skin is always at risk.

Reliever Ross Stripling could get the start, or the Dodgers could recall Buehler or Stewart from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Buehler is listed as Sunday's starter for OKC, having last pitched on Monday. Stewart last pitched on Wednesday and Monday would be his regular day to start.

Other injury updates
• Roberts said third baseman Justin Turner, already out nearly five weeks with a fractured left wrist, has begun hitting off a tee.

"The soreness is really starting to dissipate," Roberts said. "He's not ready for a rehab assignment, but he's moving in the right direction."

Logan Forsythe, who went on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation resulting from longer throws from third base after taking over for Turner, said he might resume throwing by Saturday or Sunday. Roberts said Forsythe also has begun taking dry swings in the batting cage.

Tweet from @kengurnick: Justin Turner (left wrist fracture) still has a teammate catch for him when he throws to keep his arm in shape. Currently, the teammate is Logan Forsythe, who can���t throw yet. A perfect rehab pair.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Logan Forsythe, Rich Hill, Justin Turner

Organist plays 'Wake Me Up' to honor Avicii

Sad news hit the music world on Friday, as Avicii, the globally successful DJ and producer, was found dead at the age of 28 in the country of Oman. 

Avicii, otherwise known as Tim Bergling, hit it big on the EDM circuit in 2011 with the song "Levels," which you've no doubt heard hundreds of times even if you don't ordinarily listen to electronic music. His 2013 single "Wake Me Up" was an even bigger success, and together the pair of tracks are two of the most influential EDM crossover hits in recent memory.

NL West: Checking in on the new guys

MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- Yes, Matt Kemp and Chris Iannetta really are impacting the Dodgers and Rockies, respectively. We swear it's 2018.

There are plenty of new faces in the National League West, and a handful of new old faces as well. All of them are sure to play pivotal roles in what figures to be one of the sport's tightest division races.

SAN DIEGO -- Yes, Matt Kemp and Chris Iannetta really are impacting the Dodgers and Rockies, respectively. We swear it's 2018.

There are plenty of new faces in the National League West, and a handful of new old faces as well. All of them are sure to play pivotal roles in what figures to be one of the sport's tightest division races.

Three weeks into the Major League season, it's worth examining the performances of a few prominent newcomers in the NL West. Here's a breakdown of the early results and future expectations for the big-name new guy on each club.

D-backs
Who's the new guy? Right-hander Brad Boxberger

How's it going so far? Boxberger has been everything the D-backs hoped for when they acquired him from the Rays in December. The right-hander won the closer's job during Spring Training, beating out Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano. Arizona likes his downward-plane fastball as well as his changeup, which he has shown the willingness to throw in any count.

Video: ARI@LAD: Boxberger induces pop out to notch the save

What's on deck? Durability has been a question for Boxberger as he missed significant time in each of the past two seasons due to a variety of injuries. This spring he experienced a tired arm, and the D-backs have been careful with his workload. The presence of Bradley and Hirano have made it easier to stay away from Boxberger on the couple of occasions when they've wanted to give him a break.

Number to know: Boxberger is 5-for-5 in save opportunities over eight appearances. He allowed his first two runs Wednesday night against San Francisco, but he's struck out 11, and opponents are hitting just .179 against him.

Dodgers
Who's the new guy? Outfielder Matt Kemp

How's it going so far? Better than everyone thought it would. There have been zero signs of perceived bad attitude from Kemp's first Dodgers stint, which was mostly bluster anyway. He has been healthy -- not to be overlooked with Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe on the disabled list. Kemp is no longer Gold Glover Award-caliber, but he hasn't done anything terribly wrong in the outfield, either. A solid acquisition -- so far.

Video: LAD@SD: Kemp crushes a two-run homer in the 1st

What's on deck? Can Kemp keep it up? He's already been starting more than the club originally indicated, and he does have a history of hip and leg injuries. Manager Dave Roberts will continue to replace Kemp when the club leads, both to improve the defense and preserve his health. Kemp strikes out a lot, but opponents still must respect the bat.

Number to know: Kemp's .981 OPS is better than Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor and everyone in the starting lineup other than Yasmani Grandal.

Giants
Who are the new guys? Third baseman Evan Longoria and outfielder Andrew McCutchen

How's it going so far?
The Giants' prized offseason acquisitions slumped out of the gate, both lingering around the Mendoza Line early on. Longoria, however, appears to have turned a corner, with four multihit games in his past five. McCutchen, meanwhile, has done very little since his six-hit night against the Dodgers (which included a dramatic walk-off home run).

Video: SF@ARI: Longoria launches a two-run home run to left

What's on deck?
San Francisco is committed to letting Longoria and McCutchen figure things out at the plate, banking on their combined 21 seasons of big league experience shining through in the long run.

Video: LAD@SF: McCutchen's walk-off homer caps a six-hit day

Number to know: Neither McCutchen nor Longoria has ever posted a season with an OPS+ at or below 100 (meaning they've been above league average every year they've spent in the Majors). Right now, both are well below that mark.

Padres
Who's the new guy? First baseman Eric Hosmer

How's it going so far? Hosmer was off to a hot start before missing a couple games with lower-back tightness. He's fallen into a bit of a rut, going 2-for-21 over the past week. But Hosmer launched his first homer as a Padre at Petco Park on Wednesday night -- a rally-starting solo shot off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Defensively, his mishap in Houston grabbed plenty of headlines, but he's been rock-solid otherwise.

Video: LAD@SD: Hosmer crushes a solo homer off Jansen

What's on deck? Hosmer will continue hitting third, and he's going to anchor first base for the next five years, at least. (Hosmer's eight-year deal with an option after the first five was the largest in team history.) Soon enough, Wil Myers will return from the DL to help comprise a formidable middle of the lineup alongside Hosmer.

Number to know: Hosmer's 61-percent ground-ball rate ranks sixth in the Majors. He's seen a bit of good fortune -- as evidenced from his .348 batting average on balls in play. But Hosmer has done his part to hit the ball hard enough to find holes.

Rockies
Who's the new guy? Catcher Chris Iannetta

How's it going so far? Iannetta, who broke in with the Rockies in 2006, was brought in for defense and to nurture a young pitching staff. His impact bat has been a bonus. Iannetta has slugged .434 with three doubles and two homers. With the rest of the lineup struggling, he's filled in at the No. 2 spot.

Video: COL@PIT: Iannetta belts a solo homer to left

What's on deck? Even if the slugging declines, Iannetta's pitch-calling and leadership won't. If the offensive output continues over the full season, that's even better for Colorado.

Number to know: Iannetta posted a .953 OPS during the Rockies' first homestand of the season. Colorado begins a six-game stretch at Coors Field on Friday against the Cubs.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Brad Boxberger, Eric Hosmer, Chris Iannetta, Matt Kemp, Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen

Everything clicks for LA in sweep of Padres

Maeda fans 10, every starting position player records a hit as LA's win streak reaches four
Special to MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers arrived in San Diego in the NL West cellar, wondering when their talent-laden roster would get in gear. After beating the Padres, 13-4, on Wednesday night, it's clear the Dodgers are hitting on most, if not all, cylinders.

Kenta Maeda (2-1) was keen and backed by an explosive offense as the National League's defending champions ran their winning streak to a season-high four games.

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SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers arrived in San Diego in the NL West cellar, wondering when their talent-laden roster would get in gear. After beating the Padres, 13-4, on Wednesday night, it's clear the Dodgers are hitting on most, if not all, cylinders.

Kenta Maeda (2-1) was keen and backed by an explosive offense as the National League's defending champions ran their winning streak to a season-high four games.

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Max Muncy hit his first home run as a Dodger and had two RBIs, Chase Utley added two more RBIs and a once-struggling Corey Seager tied a career-high with four hits and three RBIs.

"It was a well-played baseball game,'' manager Dave Roberts said.

Video: LAD@SD: Muncy mashes his first home run with Dodgers

Maeda took advantage of the output as he put down the Padres. He was charged with four runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 innings after recording just eight outs in his previous start. He tied a season high with 10 strikeouts while walking two in heaving 106 pitches.

"Kenta really competed out there and he was really fun to watch,'' Roberts said. "I really thought he held his velocity well tonight and he was able to attack. He gave us the innings that we needed. He is trusting his fastball in the strike zone and when you can trust to throw it and execute it, with velocity, you are going to get swing and misses.''

Video: LAD@SD: Maeda fans 10 in start vs. the Padres

While Maeda cruised on a pleasant San Diego evening, Luis Perdomo (1-2) pitched as if under a black cloud. He was torched for nine runs (seven earned) and 10 hits in three innings.

The Dodgers prevailing against the Padres was hardly a shocker. With the victory, the Dodgers now own the most wins against a divisional opponent since 2015, going 41-19 over that span.

But the sweep came with significance as the Dodgers got help from nearly every corner of the clubhouse. Time will tell if the Dodgers have turned the corner as well.

"We played a full game,'' said Seager, who went 7-for-16 in the series. "We pitched well, we hit well, we came up with hits with runners on base. That is how you get it going and it is a really good recipe for success.''

 Video: LAD@SD: Utley rips a two-run double to left-center

Roberts has been waiting for a collection of games like the last four. The one drawback is that closer Kenley Jansen still seeks consistency, but other than that, Roberts likes what he sees.

"When you are scoring the runs we are and stressing the [other team's] pitchers and our pitchers are attacking and we are getting guys on base and running the bases well, it just brings energy,'' Roberts said. "That is when we play our best.''

The Dodgers' hitters have flipped a switch, and maybe Justin Turner and Utley supplied the charge. They stressed being selective at the plate in a Sunday pregame meeting with position players, and the Dodgers haven't lost since.

"We're not afraid to run a count and we are not afraid to take a walk,'' Roberts said. "We talked about using the big part of the field, and Corey did it tonight and Muncy, going the other way for a homer, did it too. When we are taking walks and using the whole field, we are pretty tough.''

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
When Matt Kemp produced a slow roller for an infield hit to third baseman Christian Villanueva in the first inning, Villanueva should have put the ball in his back pocket. Instead, he tried to erase Kemp and ended up short-hopping first baseman Eric Hosmer. The ball got past Hosmer, which allowed Yasmani Grandal and Cody Bellinger to score two unearned runs and it put the wheels in motion for a rout.

 Video: LAD@SD: Dodgers score two runs on Villanueva's error

SOUND SMART
When these teams next meet, it will be on the other side of border. The Dodgers and Padres will square off May 4-6 in Monterrey, Mexico. It will be the Dodgers' fourth visit to the neighboring country, but their first time to play regular-season games. They made preseason trips in 1964, 1991 and 2003. The Dodgers aren't the only L.A. pro team heading south this year, as the Rams will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Mexico City on Nov. 19.

HE SAID IT
"For us to win a series is a great thing and to sweep a team and gain three games is big. Now, we got our work cut out. We got [Max] Scherzer and [Stephen] Strasburg, two of the best in the game -- we have to keep playing good baseball.'' -- Roberts, on sweeping the Padres and looking ahead to a three-game series with the Nationals

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
It was a heck of a catch, and then it wasn't. But it produced a dynamite throw. Left fielder Joc Pederson raced over to the wall in pursuit of Carlos Asuaje's foul ball in the seventh inning. The concrete barrier was waiting for him as well as some Dodgers fans leaning over and seeking a souvenir. Pederson leaped into the wall and made the catch, only for the ball to pop out of his glove when he came down and it struck his knee.

Video: LAD@SD: Umpires review fan interfence, call confirmed

A ticked-off Pederson gathered the ball, and instead of giving it to the Dodgers booster seeking it, he fired it into the third deck of Petco Park. Roberts requested a replay, but it was ruled that there was no fan interference.

UP NEXT
The Dodgers open a six-game homestand on Friday against the Washington Nationals after Thursday's off-day. Nationals ace Max Scherzer (3-1) will greet the Dodgers for the 7:10 p.m. PT first pitch. With scheduled starter Rich Hill (finger nail) going on the DL on Wednesday, Clayton Kershaw (1-2) will stay on his regular turn and face Scherzer.

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Muncy launches first Dodgers home run

Third baseman goes yard, makes impressive play in first start for LA
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Third baseman Max Muncy continues to prove his jersey No. 13 is anything but unlucky. It was a good number for the Dodgers as well, with them blasting the Padres, 13-4, on Wednesday night.

Muncy, who was called up earlier in the week from Triple-A Oklahoma City, hit his first home run in 20 months when he took Luis Perdomo deep to the opposite field in the Dodgers' five-run third inning. It gave Muncy, the first Dodgers player to wear No. 13 at OKC, a single, walk and a solo roundtripper in his first three plate appearances since joining the Dodgers.

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SAN DIEGO -- Third baseman Max Muncy continues to prove his jersey No. 13 is anything but unlucky. It was a good number for the Dodgers as well, with them blasting the Padres, 13-4, on Wednesday night.

Muncy, who was called up earlier in the week from Triple-A Oklahoma City, hit his first home run in 20 months when he took Luis Perdomo deep to the opposite field in the Dodgers' five-run third inning. It gave Muncy, the first Dodgers player to wear No. 13 at OKC, a single, walk and a solo roundtripper in his first three plate appearances since joining the Dodgers.

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"It was very nice," Muncy said. "It is always nice to get the first of anything out of the way, whether it's a hit or home run or a play in the field. It kind of gets the butterflies out of your stomach."

It was the heart of the hitting zone that Perdomo's pitch found. Muncy was ready.

"I was just looking for something hard over the plate," Muncy said. "I put one of my best swings on it and it felt good off the bat, so I had a pretty good feel for it."

Comfortable at either corner infield position, Muncy was summoned when Logan Forsythe (shoulder) landed on the disabled list. He played in 96 games with the A's in 2015-16 and spent last season at OKC. He opened some eyes with a solid camp in the spring as a non-roster invitee.

Muncy proved his prowess with his glove when he made a sensational play in the seventh inning.

With Muncy shaded toward the hole at shortstop, Chase Headley hit a sharp grounder down the third-base line. Muncy stuck his glove out on the backhand side and, from a couple of steps in foul territory, he rifled a strike to first baseman Cody Bellinger to retire Headley.

Video: LAD@SD: Muncy nabs Headley with laser to first

"I take a lot of pride in my defense, but I was afraid the ball was going to hit the bag," Muncy said. "So I was getting ready for a ricochet or something. But I got it and from there, I just kind of blacked out."

When he came to, he was still a Los Angeles Dodger, smack dab in a lineup that produced 18 hits.

"It's pretty impressive,'' he said, "and it's fun to be a part of it."

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Max Muncy

Pederson throws foul ball toward the heavens

When Carlos Asuaje lofted a fly ball down the left-field line in the seventh inning of the Dodgers' 13-4 win over the Padres on Wednesday night at Petco Park, Joc Pederson raced over in hopes of making a play. With a slight leap toward the stands, the Dodgers outfielder came down with the ball ... but it squirted out of his glove.

After an effort like that that went for naught, and suddenly in possession of a foul ball rather than an out, Pederson saw fit to dispose of the ball by hurling it toward the upper deck.

Dodgers place Hill on DL, call up Liberatore

Left-hander dealing with finger inflammation unrelated to past blister issues; Jansen's closer role 'absolutely not' at risk
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers recalled left-handed reliever Adam Liberatore from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday and placed left-hander Rich Hill (left middle finger inflammation) on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to April 15.

Hill cracked his nail in his last start and was unable to throw his bullpen session on Tuesday. While Hill said he's "frustrated," he doesn't think the ailment will be a long-term issue.

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SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers recalled left-handed reliever Adam Liberatore from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday and placed left-hander Rich Hill (left middle finger inflammation) on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to April 15.

Hill cracked his nail in his last start and was unable to throw his bullpen session on Tuesday. While Hill said he's "frustrated," he doesn't think the ailment will be a long-term issue.

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Hill last pitched on Saturday against the Diamondbacks, when he allowed seven runs on seven hits in five innings as he recorded his first loss of the season. In three starts this year, the southpaw has gone 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA (10 earned runs, 15 innings pitched) and has struck out 16 batters against seven walks.

"We're going to rest it for a few days and then come back," Hill said. "It's more of a precautionary thing. We want to get ahead of it now and not nurse it the entire season. We want to deal with it and get it done."

Hill has been derailed in the past with blisters on the fingers of his throwing hand. But he stressed that had nothing to do with his latest injury.

"It's just the nail that cracked and it's kind of one of those things where you don't have as much nail bend," Hill said. "So it just inhibits the command of the fastball."

Video: SF@LAD: Hill fans five across six scoreless innings

Hill was scheduled to start the series opener against the visiting Washington Nationals on Friday night. The Dodgers could keep Clayton Kershaw on his regular turn and switch him from Saturday's game to Friday's. They could also summon a reinforcement from the Minors or have multiple relievers handle the start.

"It just came upon us, so we are trying to figure it out," manager Dave Roberts said. "Clayton is an option if we move him up, or do we call someone else up and try to figure it out. So we are not set on our rotation. We are trying to talk our way through it."

Roberts, like Hill, said blisters are not in play.

"It's a different thing,'' Roberts said. "It's more of the nail itself, but I think for us, where we are right now and the history of stuff with him, we're just going to be prudent. Potentially, he might miss just one start, so we are not going to push it right now."

Liberatore, 30, has appeared in five games with the OKC Dodgers this season, going 1-0 and has not allowed an earned run in 6 1/3 innings of relief. He has struck out nine batters against two walks, while holding the opposition to a .240 average. The southpaw appeared in seven Cactus League games, allowing seven runs (six earned) in 6 2/3 innings, while striking out seven against four walks. Liberatore appeared in just four games with the Dodgers last season, allowing one run in 3 1/3 innings (2.70 ERA), but had several injuries.

"Lib can give us some length as far as two innings," Roberts said. "With his ability of getting a left-hander and a right-hander out and his potential for two innings, it just made more sense."

Jansen's woes
Kenley Jansen strolled through the clubhouse, whistling as he walked. If he was stressed over his latest struggles, it didn't show.

But less than 24 hours from blowing his second save in four chances, the Dodgers are no closer to deciphering what's wrong with their two-time All-Star.

"We are still trying to figure it out," Roberts said. "And really, we have no answer yet."

Jansen entered the ninth on Tuesday night with a 3-1 lead. But he allowed the Padres to tie the score in a game the Dodgers eventually won, 7-3, in 12 innings.

Video: LAD@SD: Headley laces a game-tying RBI double

"The one thing that was encouraging was his velocity was better than it had been," Roberts said. "But the other side of it was the characteristics of his cutter weren't doing what they were supposed to do. The health component, he keeps checking those boxes. It's more of just finishing that pitch at the end and getting the cut."

What Roberts isn't considering is moving Jansen out of his closer role.

"No, absolutely not," he said. "If there's a save situation tonight or a potential non-save situation to keep the game close, I have no hesitancy to run him out there.

"I think we are a ways from that. I think he has earned that and sometimes, with his track record, and guys like that, you have to let them work through it. It is more difficult when you are talking about the closer. It's not a mental thing, it's execution. So that is not our mind right now."

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Rich Hill, Adam Liberatore

Verdugo, Wong among prospect performers

MLB.com @wboor

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Wednesday.

When things are going well offensively, more at-bats are certainly welcomed. That being the case, Wednesday's doubleheader came at a good time for Nick Gordon and LaMonte Wade as the duo helped lead Double-A Chattanooga to a pair of wins over Jacksonville.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Wednesday.

When things are going well offensively, more at-bats are certainly welcomed. That being the case, Wednesday's doubleheader came at a good time for Nick Gordon and LaMonte Wade as the duo helped lead Double-A Chattanooga to a pair of wins over Jacksonville.

Gordon (No. 81 overall, Twins' No. 4) and Wade (Twins' No. 13) combined to go 7-for-12 (.583) with two homers and four RBIs over the two games.

Gordon, who went 2-for-4 and 2-for-3, has been swinging a particuarily hot bat lately. The 22-year-old is in the midst of a five-game hitting streak and has two or more hits in five of his past seven games. Gordon also has a homer in two of his past three contests, including Game 2 of the doubleheader.

Wade, who went deep in Game 1 and finished 2-for-3 and 1-for-2, is hitting .300 through 12 games this season and has multiple hits in three of his past five games.

Other top prospect performances from Wednesday's action:

• No. 3 overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays' No. 1) bounced back from Tuesday's 0-for-5 effort with a 2-for-2 day at the plate. Guerrero singled in the first inning, drove in a run via a sacrifice fly in the third, was hit by a pitch in the sixth and capped his day with a double in the seventh.

Video: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. named No. 3 prospect

• No. 33 overall prospect Alex Verdugo (Dodgers' No. 2) is on an absolute tear with Triple-A Oklahoma City. After going 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs against Round Rock, the 21-year-old outfielder is hitting .643 (9-for-14) with three homers and nine RBIs over his past five games.

• No. 57 overall prospect Jesus Sanchez (Rays' No. 4) put together his fourth straight multi-hit game and extended his hitting streak to six for Class A Advanced Charlotte. Sanchez, who is batting .370 through 12 games, went 4-for-5 with a homer -- his third in the past four games.

• No. 97 overall prospect Austin Riley (Braves' No. 8) pushed his average to .370 with his third straight multi-hit performance. Riley went 3-for-4 with a pair of triples and has nine extra-base hits in 13 games for Double-A Mississippi.

Video: Top Prospects: Austin Riley, 3B, Braves

• No. 99 overall prospect Blake Rutherford (White Sox No. 7) and Micker Adolfo (White Sox No. 10) combined for six hits as Class A Advanced Winston-Salem cruised past Down East. Rutherford, who has hits in five straight, went 3-for-5 with three doubles, while Adolfo went 3-for-6 with two RBIs.

Dodgers' No. 15 prospect Connor Wong hit his sixth homer of the season and turned in another two-hit game for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. Wong, who finished 2-for-4, has multiple hits in four of his past five games and has raised his average from .250 to .364 in that span.

Giants' No. 29 prospect Jordan Johnson extended his scoreless streak to 13 innings as he cruised through seven frames for Double-A Richmond. The right-hander, who picked up his second win of the season, threw 53 of his 76 pitches for strikes, gave up six hits and struck out five. Johnson also didn't issue a walk and has walked just one batter over his past two starts after giving out five free passes in his first outing.

• Mets prospects David Peterson (No. 2) and Quinn Brodey (No. 28) -- both members of the 2017 Draft class -- led Class A Columbia to a win over Greenville. Peterson, making his season debut, gave up one run on four hits over six innings, while Brodey extended his hitting streak to seven games with his first career two-homer effort. Brodey, who hit three homers in 63 games last season, went deep in both the eighth and ninth innings, finishing 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

Video: Top Prospects: David Peterson, LHP, Mets

• Rangers prospects Pedro Gonzalez (No. 10) and Anderson Tejeda (No. 12) each homered as part of multi-hit efforts for Class A Hickory and Class A Advanced Down East, respectively. Gonzalez hit his second homer of the season, a two-run blast, in the fifth to highlight a 2-for-3, two-RBI day. Tejeda, who also went 2-for-3, hit a three-run homer off of Dylan Cease (No. 61 overall, White Sox No. 5).

• Rays No. 28 prospect Resly Linares was nearly perfect in his second start for Class A Bowling Green. The 20-year-old lefty gave up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in his first outing of the season, but this time around he threw 52 of his 85 pitches for strikes, struck out seven and allowed just two baserunners -- via a hit batter and an error -- over seven scoreless frames.

• Yankees prospects Thairo Estrada (No. 10) and Trevor Stephan (No. 15) did their part as Class A Advanced Tampa routed Daytona, 12-0. Estrada, who was making his season debut after recovering from a gunshot wound sustained in the offseason, wasted no time getting back into the swing of things. The 22-year-old doubled in his first at-bat on his way to a 3-for-5 game. Stephan strung together six zeros for the second straight start, lowering his ERA to 1.13. The right-hander walked two, gave up a pair of hits and struck out eight, bringing his season total to 22 punchouts through 16 innings.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Kemp goes yard in 2nd straight game vs. Padres

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Matt Kemp continues to make himself at home in his former digs.

Kemp slugged his second home run in three at-bats against the Padres, blasting a two-run shot in the first inning Tuesday. The former Padre punished Bryan Mitchell's 81 mph curveball 421 feet to dead center to supply the Dodgers with a 2-0 lead. The Dodgers went on to win, 7-3, in 12 innings.

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SAN DIEGO -- Matt Kemp continues to make himself at home in his former digs.

Kemp slugged his second home run in three at-bats against the Padres, blasting a two-run shot in the first inning Tuesday. The former Padre punished Bryan Mitchell's 81 mph curveball 421 feet to dead center to supply the Dodgers with a 2-0 lead. The Dodgers went on to win, 7-3, in 12 innings.

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Kemp has collected hits in three straight at-bats against San Diego. In Monday's 10-3 laugher, Kemp smacked a three-run homer. He's hit 19 career homers against the Padres and his 133 hits at San Diego's expense are the most among active players.

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp

Grandal picks up Jansen with 12th-inning rally

A few clutch hits help salvage Wood's solid outing
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Yasmani Grandal's two-run double off Tyler Webb fueled a four-run 12th inning as the Dodgers beat the Padres, 7-3, on Tuesday night after Kenley Jansen scuffled again.

"Oh, man,'' Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after letting loose an impressive post-game sigh in his office.

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SAN DIEGO -- Yasmani Grandal's two-run double off Tyler Webb fueled a four-run 12th inning as the Dodgers beat the Padres, 7-3, on Tuesday night after Kenley Jansen scuffled again.

"Oh, man,'' Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after letting loose an impressive post-game sigh in his office.

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Grandal's hit chased in Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger as the Dodgers produced their first three-game winning streak of the season. Kyle Farmer added a two-run double as well to clinch the series.

Video: LAD@SD: Farmer pads the Dodgers' lead in the 12th

Grandal was the star for the second straight night as he continues his impressive start.

"I don't want to imagine where we would be without him behind the plate and at the plate with what he has done: Getting big hits for us, getting on base, driving runs in and catching 12 innings tonight,'' Roberts said. "He has done amazing things."

Scott Alexander (1-0) pitched the 11th inning for the win while Webb (0-1), who was called up earlier on Tuesday, got the loss.

Alex Wood didn't figure into the decision, but he was solid. He allowed an unearned run and two hits over 5 2/3 innings. This came in the wake of his last outing, when he gave up more runs than in any game since July.

Video: LAD@SD: Wood K's seven on the road vs. the Padres

"I felt really good tonight,'' Wood said. "It was just my stuff. My fastball command was good. I was behind it and I was commanding it really well and it was sinking tonight.''

Unfortunately, that sinking feeling wasn't restricted to Wood's offerings. While the Dodgers close in on a possible sweep, the win left a bitter taste in one corner of the somber clubhouse.

Jansen is the Dodgers' closer, but another unsettling ninth inning raised further alarms for him.

"When you have a two-run lead and you have the best closer coming into the game, you don't expect to use three other relievers,'' Roberts said. "We have to get Kenley right because we are going to need him to accomplish what we want to accomplish.''

The Dodgers turned the game over to Jansen, ahead 3-1. But Eric Hosmer opened the inning with a homer off the struggling two-time All-Star and Chase Headley, as a pinch-hitter, tied the score with a sharp double to right, which scored Franchy Cordero.

"Today, I missed location and I missed by a lot,'' Jansen said. "I just have to find it and be consistent and I will be fine. But to Eric Hosmer, that ball was down the middle -- he got me.''

It was Jansen's second blown save in four appearances, after having just one in 42 chances last year. Jansen was lucky not to get tagged with the loss as he was aided by Chris Taylor's sensational catch. Taylor jumped near the top of the center-field fence to rob Christian Villanueva of extra bases.

Video: Taylor's game-saving catch

"Villanueva, again, down the middle -- that's not me,'' Jansen said. "Headley, he put a good swing on it and he got me on that one. But most of them were because of my location.''

Matt Kemp had three RBIs as he continues to torment his former team. He has six RBIs in the series' first two games and his first-inning homer, a two-run blast, was his second in as many evenings. Kemp's three home runs ties him for the club lead.

Video: LAD@SD: Kemp crushes a two-run homer in the 1st

If not for Jansen's hiccup, the clubhouse would have been thumping with loud music afterward. Instead it was quiet, as players hustled out into a night that lasted longer than most would have imagined.

"I have confidence in myself that I will find it, it's just a matter of time,'' Jansen said. "Hopefully I can get an opportunity tomorrow because tonight, that's no who I am.''

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bellinger had his biggest impact by husting down the line. When he hit a sharp one-out grounder to second with two men on in the 12th, it looked like the Dodgers' game-turning rally was circling the drain. But Bellinger, who's among the fastest Dodgers, beat Freddy Galvis' relay to first after Enrique Hernandez was erased at second. If Bellinger doesn't go hard to first, the inning would have been over, instead of the Dodgers putting the go-ahead four runs on the scoreboard.

SOUND SMART
It's easy to tell the veterans from the rookies. When a foul ball found its way to the Dodgers' dugout steps, Chase Utley made a sweet snag. He predictably flipped the ball over his head into the stands, and it quickly came right back. Utley, in his 16th season, forgot about the extended netting which now protects fans in Major League parks.

HE SAID IT
"It boils down to he is not executing like he normally does. I can't speak to if it is mechanic, all I can tell you is what I see with my eyes. And [his cut fastball] is not doing what it used to do." -- Roberts, on Jansen's struggles

UP NEXT
Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda (1-1) will draw Luis Perdomo (1-1) in Wednesday's series finale, with first pitch at 7:10 p.m.

Maeda hopes to get on track after a scratchy outing on Friday when losing to the Diamondbacks. He recorded but eight outs in allowing two runs on five hits with two walks. Against the Padres, Maeda is 3-3 lifetime in eight starts, with a 4.50 ERA.

Max Muncy, who was summoned from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday, is expected to make his first Dodgers start at third base.

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Yasmani Grandal

Jansen's continued woes concern Roberts

Dodgers' closer searches for answers after blowing another save
Special to MLB.com

Kenley Jansen will continue to search for answers. What he won't question is his belief.

"I just have to get better," Jansen said after blowing a save in an eventual 7-3 Dodgers victory over the Padres on Tuesday night. "I can't let that get in my mind of what's wrong with me; it's early in the year. I'm never going to let that confidence go."

Kenley Jansen will continue to search for answers. What he won't question is his belief.

"I just have to get better," Jansen said after blowing a save in an eventual 7-3 Dodgers victory over the Padres on Tuesday night. "I can't let that get in my mind of what's wrong with me; it's early in the year. I'm never going to let that confidence go."

The Dodgers' two-time All-Star closer has blown two save chances this year in four attempts after blowing just one in 42 opportunities a year ago. But that's not the most alarming stat.  

Strikeout rate
2018: 22.6%
2017: 42.3%

Walk rate
2018: 9.7%
2017: 2.7%

Cut fastball velocity
2018: 91.1 mph
2017: 93.2 mph

Jansen's walk rate is up, his strikeout rate is way down after hovering above 40 percent for each of his last three seasons, and the velocity on his signature cut fastball -- which he throws more than 80 percent of the time -- is down almost 2 mph.  

Still, look elsewhere for a pity party. Jansen wants no part of that.  

"I'm not going to feel sorry for myself or anything," he said postgame. "The good thing is we got the win."  

Jansen entered the ninth inning with a 3-1 lead on Tuesday, but he couldn't locate his fastball and his cutter didn't have its usual bite. Eric Hosmer burned the right-hander for a homer and Christian Villanueva nearly had another, but center fielder Chris Taylor went over the wall to rob him. (Another troubling stat: Jansen has already allowed three homers in 6 2/3 innings this year after allowing five in 68 1/3 innings in 2017.) 

Video: LAD@SD: Taylor robs Villanueva at the wall in the 9th

Jansen then issued a two-out walk to Franchy Cordero, who came around to score on a pinch-hit double by Chase Headley.  

"The velocity was good but the characteristics of his cutter … they were just not doing what they typically do," said manager Dave Roberts, whose team rallied for four runs in the 12th. "They were straight as a string to Hosmer and Villanueva." 

Video: LAD@SD: Hosmer crushes a solo homer off Jansen

Jansen mentioned that maybe his release point was off. Or his stride was lacking. Once he gets in the video room with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt on Wednesday, maybe the answer will be revealed. Somewhat encouraging was that his average cutter velo of 91.8 on the night tied for his season high (April 8 against the Giants).  

But until he can figure things out, Jansen will take the arrows that are pointed his way.  

"Listen people can criticize me, that's OK," he said. "They deserve to criticize me. But me, I have to be strong in my mind and know who I am. 

"It's a long season and I have that confidence that I am going to be all right. By the end of the year, hopefully, this will be over with and we had a great season and we won't be thinking about this month."  

Roberts doesn't know what to think. He just knows Jansen isn't on track.  

"Right now he's not right as far as the way the ball is coming out of the hand," Roberts said. "We have all the confidence in Kenley. It's one of those things people go through and he has to work his way out of it."

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Kenley Jansen