WASHINGTON -- Thomas Stripling pitched like an ace as the Dodgers opened their split doubleheader against the Nationals with a 4-1 victory on Saturday at Nationals Park. He allowed one run over six innings with a career-high nine strikeouts for his first win of the season. How many more starts
WASHINGTON -- Thomas Stripling pitched like an ace as the Dodgers opened their split doubleheader against the Nationals with a 4-1 victory on Saturday at Nationals Park. He allowed one run over six innings with a career-high nine strikeouts for his first win of the season. How many more starts are coming his way is unclear.
Los Angeles' actual ace Clayton Kershaw may return from his stint on the disabled list in less than two weeks. Stripling revealed Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) is set to throw a bullpen session soon, which probably leads to a rehab outing before he rejoins the rotation if all goes well. At that point, Stripling's role could change. For now, he is doing everything possible to make that future decision tough on his manager.
"He's shown a lot," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after Stripling's fourth start of the season and 20th of his career. "He has a lot of confidence in himself, as he should. He's taking advantage of this, and it absolutely has not gone unnoticed. It's innings that we've needed from him. Obviously, you're getting Clayton back in the near term, but he's definitely making a case."
Stripling (1-1) struck out the side in the first inning and fanned his final five batters. Of the nine strikeouts, six came with the batter looking, including Bryce Harper leading off the sixth. He scattered four hits and did not walk a batter.
"He's a strike-thrower," Roberts said. "Working all quadrants. Kept a pretty good offense at bay today. Gave us some length."
Stripling also gave Washington's top of the order fits. The Nationals' first three hitters -- Trea Turner, Harper and Anthony Rendon -- each struck out twice against him.
That his pitches stung from the start permitted Stripling to hold off revealing his changeup until needed.
"That's nice. That's a perfect world," Stripling said. "A tough lineup like this, a lot of times you're going to throw the kitchen sink at them from the start. Just not the way it worked out today. Was able to kind of hold on to the changeup and use it in some big spots."
Player Page for Max Muncy collected two RBIs for the Dodgers, who have won back-to-back games after dropping six in a row. Yasmani Grandal and Cody Bellinger also drove in a run apiece.
Three relievers worked the final three innings, with Kenley Jansen pitching the ninth for his seventh save.
Dodgers leadoff batter Joc Pederson collected two hits, including a triple in the first, and scored the game's first run on Grandal's sacrifice fly. Bellinger's RBI groundout in the fifth broke a 1-1 tie. Muncy's double in the sixth scored Grandal to extend the lead to 3-1.
"I think Joc's first at-bat set the tone for our ballclub," Roberts said. "We did some good situational hitting today."
Washington turned a leadoff single by Wilmer Difo in the third into its lone run on Harper's game-tying, two-out single.
Stripling's next start lines up during the upcoming 10-game homestand, in theory.
"No one has really even told me what I'm doing," Stripling said. "They're like, 'Hey, you have a bullpen today.' 'OK, so does that set me up for Saturday?' And they're like, 'Yeah.' I'm like, 'Alright, sweet.' Just taking it one start at a time. Once Clayton is back, we'll see. For now, enjoying it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
JT Chargois replaced Stripling with the Dodgers leading 3-1 in the seventh and promptly allowed a leadoff single to Howie Kendrick into the left-field corner. Kendrick tried stretching the hit into a double, but Pederson cleanly picked up the ball and threw out Kendrick at second. The assist proved valuable as Michael A. Taylor immediately singled off Chargois and then stole second base with two outs. Spencer Kieboom lined out to end the threat.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Getting plunked in the helmet while at the plate unfortunately happens at times. Typically, the wayward ball is thrown from the pitcher's mound. Not in the Los Angeles half of the third inning. After a pitch from Nationals starter Tanner Roark, Kieboom's attempt to throw the ball back hit Bellinger. Fortunately, the toss found the helmet. Bellinger shook it off and remained in the game. More >
John Forsythe snapped an 0-for-12 skid dating back to April 13 with his second-inning double. The infielder injured his shoulder on April 14 and landed on the disabled list. Activated on May 15, Forsythe was hitless in nine at-bats until his double. He also singled in the fifth and scored the Dodgers' second run.
Left-hander Rich Hill (1-2, 6.20) starts the second game of the split doubleheader for Los Angeles. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (7-1, 1.69) goes for Washington. Hill is 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in five career appearances -- four starts -- against the Nationals. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. PT.
Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.