With plenty of run support, Clayton Kershaw cruises for Dodgers

WASHINGTON — When the Dodgers scored seven runs in the second inning against the Washington Nationals on Sunday, the game was essentially over.

Clayton Kershaw was on the mound.

“It would have been hard to score seven runs against Kershaw,” center fielder Matt Kemp said.

Kershaw welcomed the early run support and went on to pitch seven innings in the Dodgers’ sweep-sealing, 9-2 victory at Nationals Park. This was a rare treat for Kershaw, whose won-loss record was frequently victimized by the Dodgers’ lineup earlier this season. Kershaw won for the third time in his last four starts and improved to 9-6.

“You still feel the pressure to keep the innings going and get guys out quickly,” Kershaw said. “But for the most part, it’s awesome. You feel much more confident.”

Kershaw gave up only two hits, but they were both home runs to Jayson Werth.


“He’s a good hitter, man,” Kershaw said.

Kershaw has made 21 starts this season. He has pitched seven or more innings in 17 of them.

Puig sits

Yasiel Puig was out of the lineup, as Manager Don Mattingly wanted to give the slumping rookie outfielder a day off.

Puig hit .216 with only one run batted in over his previous 12 games.

“He seemed a little lost, for me, the last couple of days,” Mattingly said. “I think he’s caught in the middle a little bit, between looking for that breaking ball and the fastball.”

Mattingly didn’t think Puig’s problems were related to his crash against the outfield wall in Colorado earlier this month, pointing to how Puig has continued to hit well in batting practice and remains a threat on the basepaths.

Puig entered the game in the bottom of the ninth inning as a defensive replacement for Kemp, who rolled his ankle in the top of the inning.

League looking better

The lopsided nature of the game allowed for deposed closer Brandon League to get some work. League hadn’t pitched since July 11.

League struck out two in two scoreless innings, giving up two hits and a walk. He threw a wild pitch.

Billingsley checks in

Chad Billingsley spent a couple of days with his teammates at Nationals Park, coming over from his home in western Pennsylvania.

Billingsley, who underwent a season-ending elbow operation in April, said he expects to start throwing by the end of next month. He said his goal is to be on the Dodgers’ opening-day roster next year.

Billingsley is spending these days working out and rehabilitating at a gym near his house. He’s usually on his couch or in bed when he watches his team play.

“I should be there,” Billingsley said he thinks to himself when watching.

“It’s just a different feeling,” Billingsley said.

Short hops

Reserve outfielder Scott Van Slyke was optioned to triple-A Albuquerque to open a roster spot for Kemp. … Former All-Star closer Carlos Marmol, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs this month, was moved from Class-A Rancho Cucamonga to double-A Chattanooga.

Twitter: @dylanohernandez