LOS ANGELES -- In their first career matchup, Clayton Kershaw outdueled Stephen Strasburg with a three-hitter for seven innings, and Yasmani Grandal laced a tiebreaking double in the sixth inning as the Dodgers edged the Nationals, 2-1, on Wednesday to avoid a series sweep at Dodger Stadium."That's a good lineup,
LOS ANGELES -- In their first career matchup, Clayton Kershaw outdueled Stephen Strasburg with a three-hitter for seven innings, and Yasmani Grandal laced a tiebreaking double in the sixth inning as the Dodgers edged the Nationals, 2-1, on Wednesday to avoid a series sweep at Dodger Stadium.
"That's a good lineup, a really good team over there, and we're fortunate to get a win," Kershaw said after the Dodgers avoided being swept by the Washington franchise for the first time since the Expos did it in 1987. "It feels good to salvage the series."
Kershaw (8-2) -- who last pitched against the Nats in the clincher of last year's National League Division Series, earning the save -- struck out nine, overcame three walks and was removed after batting for himself having thrown 95 pitches. Kershaw is 12-2 in his career against Washington. The Dodgers are 11-2 in his starts this year, winning the last seven. Kenley Jansen recorded a four-out save, his 10th.
"I just enjoy competing against him," said Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who homered off Kershaw in the second inning. "He's one of the best now and maybe ever. I enjoy going out there and facing those guys. He's going to come out at you and not really mess around."
Strasburg (7-2) took a one-hitter into the sixth with a lead provided by Zimmerman's homer, his National League-leading 17th.
"First pitch, I thought I'd sneak a strike, and the ball seemed off the plate," Kershaw said of the low-and-inside fastball. "I throw lot of heaters first pitch, and I bet he was expecting it. Impressive swing, for sure."
But with two out in the sixth, Corey Seager homered to tie the game.
"I was looking for something over the plate and fortunately got one," said Seager, who homered for the first time since May 20.
Adrian Gonzalez reached first on a passed ball by catcher Jose Lobaton while striking out, went to second on a wild pitch and scored when left fielder Ryan Raburn was unable to make a diving catch of Grandal's gapper. Strasburg struck out eight in six innings and took only his second loss in his last 19 road starts.
"Well, when you lose by one, especially 2-1, you point to a couple errors," said Nationals manager Dusty Baker. "We made a couple errors that caused Stras to throw more pitches. ... When you play in close games like that, there's usually a mistake here and a mistake there that is a difference."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sliders that got away: The Nationals were done in by two sliders down and in that Lobaton didn't catch. The first, allowing Gonzalez to reach first base after striking out, was ruled a passed ball. The second allowed Gonzalez to reach second base and was ruled a wild pitch. Grandal then followed with his RBI double that gave the Dodgers the 2-1 lead.
"[Strasburg] pitched well, too," said Kershaw. "There were a lot of unfortunate occurrences there to get a run."
• Kershaw out after 7? Roberts explains
Curious strategy, but it worked: With a one-run lead and the top of the batting order coming up, Kershaw was replaced by Pedro Baez, who allowed a leadoff triple to Trea Turner. But after striking out Raburn, the former third baseman Baez made a slick stab of Bryce Harper's shot up the middle and tagged Turner out at the plate after a rundown. The call was confirmed upon review.
"Clayton pitched well, but I basically changed my mind," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "I wanted Pedey to go out there to start the eighth, and knew we had Kenley for an out or two in the eighth."
"Just a great play by Baez, not only to catch it, but to turn and make a good throw on a really fast runner," Zimmerman said.
"It's huge. To come out west is always tough. Being able to come out and win some ballgames in San Fran and Oakland and coming in L.A. and taking two out of three, that's huge." -- Harper, on finishing the Nats' West Coast trip at 7-2
• Despite loss, Nats coasted on West Coast
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Strasburg tied Kerry Wood for most strikeouts by a starting pitcher in his first 1,000 innings with 1,166 after fanning Seager in the first.
With Turner at third with one out in the eighth, Harper hit a grounder back to the mound that Baez was able to snag. Turner attempted to score from third, but the Dodgers caught him in a rundown, and Turner was called out as he tried to slide safely into home. Baker challenged the call that Turner was out, but the play was confirmed.
Nationals: Washington heads back home after a nine-game West Coast road trip to play a makeup game with the Orioles on Thursday. The Nationals will go with Joe Ross, who is coming off one of his worst starts, giving up seven runs in six innings in a 10-4 loss against Oakland. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET
Dodgers: After a day off and the annual in-season Gala fundraiser Thursday night, the Dodgers resume the homestand on Friday night against the Reds, with Rich Hill getting the 7:10 p.m. PT start and looking for some consistency after a four-inning outing in Milwaukee. Hill last started against the Reds in 2007.
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Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.
Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles and covered the Nationals on Wednesday.