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Kenta Maeda tweaks his delivery to deliver win for slumping Dodgers

Kenta Maeda credited a small mechanical adjustment for unlocking his slider in one of his best starts as a Dodger. In the days before his eight scoreless frames in Thursday’s 7-0 victory, he felt his delivery lacked the proper timing.

“I felt like I was just rushing my delivery, in terms of not staying still and taking my time when I deliver,” Maeda said through his interpreter, Will Ireton. “So I slowed everything down.”

Maeda (3-3, 3.89 earned-run average) had excellent timing on Thursday. He became only the third Dodgers starter to complete eight innings in 2018. He struck out eight and scattered two hits. He retired the final 17 batters he faced. Working with control of his mechanics, he baffled Marlins hitters with his slider and commanded his fastball.

The performance ended a recent skid for Maeda. Facing the Giants, Padres and Reds, he had given up 12 earned runs in 15⅔ innings over his last three starts. He avoided similar calamity on Thursday as the Dodgers avoided a sweep in Miami.

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“Kenta was really good, really efficient,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Pounding the strike zone. Pitched off his slider. The fastball had life to it, 92-93 mph.”

Maeda needed 96 pitches to get through the eighth. He joked that he likely needed to have his pitch count in the 80s for Roberts to let him finish the game. He wasn’t far off — especially with closer Kenley Jansen having pitched just once since May 9.

“I thought about it, but as we sit here, we look for [Maeda] to pitch on regular rest,” Roberts said. “In a 7-0 game, to have him just go and complete the game — and Kenley also needed some work, if you look at the last week, he needed to get out there.”

Kershaw continues to make progress

Clayton Kershaw played catch yet again on Thursday morning. He expanded to a distance of 120 feet, Roberts said. Kershaw has been throwing regularly since being put on the disabled list on May 6 with biceps tendinitis, but has not been cleared to pitch off a mound yet.

Earlier this week, Roberts said he did not expect Kershaw to throw a bullpen session on this trip. Kershaw could hit that benchmark early next week when the team returns to Los Angeles.

Bad weather awaiting in D.C.

A storm raged outside Marlins Park as the Dodgers wrapped up this series on Thursday afternoon. They won’t have the luxury of playing inside a dome this weekend against Washington. There is rain in the forecast for all three days, with the heaviest weather projected for Friday and Saturday.

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“It doesn’t look too promising,” Roberts said.

The schedule is not forgiving, either. The Dodgers will start a series on Monday with Colorado back in Los Angeles, so a doubleheader on Sunday is not an option.

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes

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