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Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Quick take: Dodgers 3, Nationals 1

By Mark Saxon


LOS ANGELES -- Zack Greinke looked as if he had never absorbed that charge from Carlos Quentin.

The Dodgers' ace right-hander returned just 4½ weeks after fracturing his left collarbone in a fight with the Padres' outfielder and continued to get his Dodgers career off to a running start. Greinke held the Washington Nationals to a run and five hits, striking out four, in 5⅓ innings Wednesday night in a 3-1 win at Dodger Stadium.

Greinke's strong return was another sign -- the biggest yet -- that the Dodgers could, gradually, be emerging from this early-season rut.

They displayed some clutch hitting. If you've forgotten what that is, let's refresh your memory. Twice, the Dodgers came up with runners in scoring position and two outs in the first two innings. Twice, they came up with hits. Adrian Gonzalez lined a single to center to drive in Matt Kemp in the first and Greinke himself -- despite orders to swing gingerly -- lined an RBI hit to right in the second.

That had to be the most entertaining part of Greinke's night. He's a lifetime .173 hitter.

The Dodgers also saw roles continue to shift in the bullpen. It appeared Kenley Jansen had overtaken Brandon League as the closer, but he came in in the seventh inning and nearly blew it in the eighth.

The first two batters reached on bloop singles, but Jansen buckled down. He got Adam LaRoche to hit a shallow fly to left, struck out Ian Desmond and coaxed a fly ball from Kurt Suzuki. It was a display of why Jansen, by all the available evidence, is the Dodgers' most imposing late-innings pitcher. He has good enough stuff to pitch his way out of virtually any jam.

The Dodgers' offense went dormant after those first two innings, but Kemp -- who has been productive without his usual power -- sparked a rally that led to a key extra run in the eighth. Kemp led off with a single (he had already extended his hitting streak to 14 games) and stole second. Four batters later, pinch hitter Carl Crawford drove him in with a sacrifice fly.

League allowed a leadoff single to ratchet up the stress of the ninth inning, but managed to get out of the jam. That included an at-bat against pinch hitter Bryce Harper, who hadn't played since slamming face-first into the right-field scoreboard Monday night. Harper bounced out to first.