For a guy who's supposed to be on the hot seat, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly seemed awfully cool Tuesday afternoon.
So what if his team had dropped four in a row? It still had 50 more to play. And it was going to start that streak with Zack Greinke, the team's human shot of confidence, on the mound.
"I'm not concerned from the standpoint of a couple of days that go bad," Mattingly said. "I'm not going to panic during a small section of this. We're going to ride it out."
And once again, Greinke made that ride a bit smoother, shutting out the Washington Nationals for six innings in a 5-0 victory that ended the Dodgers' longest skid in nearly two years.
But then, stopping losing streaks has become commonplace for Greinke: In his two seasons with the Dodgers he's started 40 games that followed a loss and the Dodgers have won 30 of them.
He was steady if not spectacular against the floundering Nationals, scattering six singles and a walk while striking out six to win his seventh consecutive decision. The Dodgers have depended on Greinke (12-2, 1.65 earned-run average) all season, but Tuesday they got additional help from unexpected sources in Yasiel Puig, who drove in all five runs, and a beleaguered bullpen that rallied with three shutout innings.
Puig, who came in batting .148 in August with more strikeouts (seven) than hits (four), matched a career high with his five runs batted in, opening the scoring with a two-run homer in the fourth. He drove in three more an inning later with a triple that skidded under the glove of sliding right fielder Clint Robinson, who was starting in place of injured Bryce Harper.
Next the Dodgers had to wait out some nervous moments with a bullpen that has the highest second-half ERA in baseball at 6.36, effectively burning the bridge between the starter and closer Kenley Jansen.
Yimi Garcia, freshly arrived from the minors, took a tentative step toward reconstructing it with a pair of scoreless innings. With Jansen unneeded, Luis Avilan followed with a perfect ninth to finish the Dodgers' majors-leading 16th shutout. And for a day, at least, the decision to stay the course looked to be the right one.
"Obviously, it's good to win a game, that's for sure," Mattingly said. "It was a good game for us. If it's hitting or pitching or fielding or whatever, momentum comes from having success. You have to start somewhere."
The Dodgers aren't starting, though. They're coming into the home stretch and with Tuesday's win are 63-50 after 113 games, exactly where they were last season when they finished with 94 wins and a division title.
Simply repeating that won't be considered a success, however.
"Anything short of winning a World Series is a disappointment," said Andre Ethier, who had a triple and walk and scored a run. "That's the culture and environment that's being bred and the expectations that are being held around here. So anything short of that is a letdown.
"Winning the division, making the playoffs is a small step to where we want to go. To be the best, we still have a long way. We were good last year. We want to be great [this year]."
The Dodgers finish their regular-season work with the Nationals on Wednesday at 7 p.m. with left-hander Clayton Kershaw (9-6, 2.51 ERA) taking the mound against Washington right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (8-7, 3.44). TV: SportsNet LA; Radio 570, 1020.