LOS ANGELES - This just in: Clayton Kershaw is pretty good.
Kershaw held the Nationals to just one run on three hits over eight stellar innings tonight, and his decision to go first-to-third on a single to center led to a key Dodgers rally in Los Angeles' 4-1 win.
Bryce Harper provided the lone Nats run of the night with a solo shot to right-center, marking the first home run and the first RBI by a left-handed hitter off Kershaw all year.
Doug Fister gets the loss in his third straight start, allowing four runs (three earned) over five-plus innings.
Here's manager Matt Williams after the loss.
On Ian Desmond's throwing error in the fifth: "He just didn't come up with the ball cleanly and (Dee) Gordon kept going. And he tried to make a throw on the run and it just sailed on him. That's the thing about Kershaw - to beat him, he makes you play a flawless game. Tonight was kind of a clunker. (Asdrubal) Cabrera made a nice play on the ball that Doug couldn't quite handle to cut down the first guy at home, but it wasn't enough tonight. Clayton pitched pretty good."
On if players feel that they have a smaller margin for error when Kershaw is on the mound: "No, I don't think so. Ian just didn't come up with it cleanly. He had a play at (Adrian Gonzalez) at first, but he just couldn't field it cleanly. Doug got exactly what he wanted - a weak grounder - but it was just in the right spot. There's no added pressure in that regard, he just doesn't give you many opportunities. Bryce put a good swing on one, but that's about all he gave us tonight."
On whether Anthony Rendon made the right play by trying to cut down Gordon at second instead of trying to tag Kershaw at third: "I don't know, I can't tell from my vantage point how far the throw is up the line in left field. I haven't looked at it yet. If the throw's on the money, he's out easy, but I don't know how far it was to his left and whether he could've gotten back or not."
On how tough Kershaw is to face right now: "He's a good pitcher. But on any given day, anybody can beat anybody. Tonight, he didn't give us many opportunities. That's why he's doing so well - because he's not making many mistakes. Like I said, you've got to play a really good game to beat him, and tonight wasn't the case."
On what changed for Fister that led to him getting hit harder in the sixth: "I don't know. Third time around the lineup, they get a sense for him. He made good pitches until that point, and it just didn't happen for him. But he's pitched well all year for us, so we're confident in him going back out there."
On Harper's homer: "It's a good swing. Again, he's finding his strength in his hand. It's coming back to him. So his bat speed is much better. He doesn't have to try to generate with his lower half. All of those things that are important for a hitter. And he's got good bat speed. He got a good pitch to hit, and he delivered it. So it's good for him."