A month ago, the Dodgers were adrift. Riddled by injury, they were the season’s biggest disappointment —their lineup unproductive, their bullpen unreliable, their rotation in constant flux, their manager’s job status under scrutiny.
They owned a dismal 30-42 record on June 21. Now, rather remarkably, on July 21 they are 50-47 and still coming.
After the Dodgers swept the three-game series from the Nationals 9-2 Sunday while pounding out 15 hits to win for the 20th time in 25 games, there was little reason to believe they are ready to let up.
If anything, the lineup appeared to get another boost when Matt Kemp was activated off the disabled list before the game. He collected three hits Sunday, including his fifth home run in his first at-bat.
Still, Kemp managed to give the Dodgers pause when he injured his left ankle while being thrown out at the plate in the ninth inning. He seemed to jam his foot awkwardly on the plate. He limped slightly as he headed back to the dugout and left the game.
The Dodgers exploded for seven runs in the second inning, and with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, the game was prematurely over for the Nationals.
Unaccustomed as he is to the team scoring behind him, Kershaw adapted rather nicely. He allowed only two hits in his seven innings, both solo home runs to Jayson Werth. Kershaw pushed his record to 9-6 with the victory, striking out nine and not walking a batter while the offense rolled early, Hanley Ramirez continuing his offensive assault with a three-run homer in the seventh.
Kemp, out since July 6 with an irritated AC joint on his surgically repaired left shoulder, started the Dodgers’ rally in the seventh with a solo home run off right-hander Jordan Zimmerman.
And the the floodgates had opened.
A.J. Ellis singled and was doubled to third by Mark Ellis. Kershaw grounded out to second to score A.J. Ellis. Carl Crawford’s base hit scored Mark Ellis. After a walk to Nick Punto, Ramirez connected with his three-run shot for his 10th homer of the season. Andre Ethier walked and scored on a Kemp double.
It was 7-0 and the game was more over than “The Lone Ranger.”
The Dodgers added two more in the fourth. After singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Ramirez, Ethier drove in one run with a ground out to second and Kemp the other with a single.
Werth hit his solo homers in the second and seventh innings, but that was the entire attack for the struggling Nationals, who have now lost eight of their last 10.
The game was such a blowout, beleaguered Brandon League got to pitch, throwing the final two scoreless innings.
Kemp had walked and was at third with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, when Crawford bounced to first baseman Chad Tracy. His only play was at the plate, but Kemp did not break for home on contact and was thrown out after stretching his left foot for the plate.