LOS ANGELES (AP) — After Kenley Jansen became the Los Angeles Dodgers’ franchise leader with the 162nd save of his career, he made sure to compliment the pitcher whose dominance constantly puts him in position to slam the door.
Jansen thinks he wouldn’t be the pitcher he is without Clayton Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ ace feels the same about Jansen.
Kershaw yielded six hits over seven dominant innings to earn his ninth victory in 10 starts, and the Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 4-1 Monday night for their fourth straight victory.
Kershaw (11-1) was content to direct all attention to Jansen, the undrafted free agent from Curacao who has become the most prolific closer in this venerable franchise’s history in less than six years. Jansen earned his very first save by finishing up for Kershaw against the Mets in July 2010, and he broke the record by saving a Kershaw victory for the 33rd time.
“Every time Kershaw is pitching, I have a great chance to get in there,” Jansen said. “To get my first save with the Dodgers with him, and then to break the record with him, that’s awesome.”
With two strikeouts and a game-ending groundout, Jansen earned his 20th save in 23 chances this season, securing his fifth 20-save season. His career total surged past the mark set by Eric Gagne, who called him with congratulations shortly afterward.
“That’s one of the top five thrills for me,” Jansen said. “This organization means a lot to me, and to have this opportunity to play for them every day is great.”
Justin Turner homered and drove in two runs, and Joc Pederson also homered in the Dodgers’ sixth win in seven games.
Washington scratched Stephen Strasburg about 80 minutes before game time due to an upper back strain, depriving Chavez Ravine of a tantalizing pitching matchup with Kershaw.
“We were looking forward to see it also,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said. “But we’ve got to do what’s best for the ballclub and (Strasburg).”
An undaunted Kershaw still added eight strikeouts to his major league-leading 141, fanning Bryce Harper three times. Kershaw didn’t walk a batter and got through a tricky seventh inning to remain unbeaten since May 1.
Late replacement Yusmeiro Petit (2-1) pitched six solid innings of five-hit ball in his first start for the NL East-leading Nationals, who have lost three straight. Anthony Rendon drove in the Nationals’ run in the seventh, but Baker couldn’t be too upset by the Nats’ effort.
“Everybody has difficulty with Kershaw,” Baker said. “He’s a nasty man.”
SO HOT RIGHT NOW
The Dodgers went a season-high six games over .500 (39-33) on a scorching day in LA with another stellar start from Kershaw, who threw his first pitch in 96-degree heat.
“The heat out there, you see him working a little more than usual,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But he got us through seven innings.”
Turner loves the heat. He put the Dodgers ahead in the first with his 10th homer, including five in his last eight games.
“This place is a great place to hit, especially when it heats up,” said Turner, who’s batting .467 in his last eight games. “The ball flies out of here pretty good. I don’t think we could have had a better day.”
After Corey Seager doubled and scored on Turner’s single in the fourth, Pederson connected in the fifth, driving his 13th homer down the right-field line.
Washington got its first runner to second base on Michael Taylor’s double in the sixth, but Kershaw ended the inning by striking out Jayson Werth and Harper. Kershaw fanned Harper in the first, fourth and sixth, emphatically winning a duel of the last two NL MVPs.
Nationals: Strasburg’s injury meant Washington had to use a starter who wasn’t in their opening day rotation for the first time this season. Strasburg pitched just 127 innings last season due to various injuries but had been healthy this year.
Dodgers: OF Yasiel Puig will be activated from the disabled list Tuesday, Roberts said. The Cuban slugger has missed 17 games with a strained left hamstring.
Nationals: Tanner Roark (6-4, 3.14 ERA) will start against the Dodgers for the first time on Tuesday night.
Dodgers: Scott Kazmir (5-3, 4.64 ERA) is unbeaten in his last five starts, striking out 35 batters in 26 innings.