LOS ANGELES — Zack Greinke returned early from the disabled list, and the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ offense is starting to pick up.
The last-place Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 on Wednesday night for their fourth win in five games.
Greinke pitched 5 1/3 strong innings in his first start since April 11 after coming off the disabled list earlier in the day. He was back three weeks sooner than expected from a broken left clavicle after a confrontation with San Diego’s Carlos Quentin last month.
“It feels pretty good,” he said. “I felt I was healing enough to pitch over two weeks ago. I just wasn’t sharp enough. I’m not 100 percent, but it doesn’t affect me at all.”
The right-hander was expected to be out eight weeks. He underwent surgery April 13 to fix the injury with a metal plate used to stabilize the break.
“Definitely a boost to see him go out and pitch six innings and even drive in a run,” said slugger Matt Kemp, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. “That was big for us. He looked pretty good.”
Greinke (2-0) made one rehab appearance Friday for Class A Rancho Cucamonga, and the Dodgers decided he was ready to rejoin them.
He proved them right, allowing one run and five hits, striking out four, and walking none.
“Stuff was pretty good, just stamina needs to be a little bit stronger,” Greinke said. “I was feeling pretty drained after the fifth.”
Los Angeles went 10-19 while Greinke was out, but he didn’t want credit for providing the team a lift.
“It takes everyone,” he said. “Last time I got off the DL in Milwaukee, I was thinking that and trying too hard. This time I was just trying to do the job and not make anything of it.”
Greinke helped himself with an RBI single with two outs in the second that extended the Dodgers’ lead to 2-0.
“He’ll get stronger and stronger as he goes,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s pretty amazing what this guy has been able to do. It tells you about how talented he is. He worked his butt off while he was gone. He wanted to get back as soon as possible.”
Brandon League pitched the ninth to earn his ninth save in 10 chances, helping the Dodgers close out the series 2-1 and giving them consecutive series victories for just the third time this season. They are 19-4 against the Nationals at home since the start of the 2006 season.
Los Angeles has held Washington to one run in the Nationals’ past 22 innings of the series.
“We had the right guys up there,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “I don’t know if they were trying to do too much instead of just hitting the ball and putting it in play. But we’ll figure it out. We’ve got the guys to do it.”
Adrian Gonzalez went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. He is batting .460 with runners in scoring position. Andre Ethier went 2-for-2 with a run scored, too.
“A lot of good things happened,” Mattingly said.
Ross Detwiler (2-4) gave up two runs and six hits in three innings before leaving because of lower-back spasms. The left-hander walked two and struck out none. The Nationals fell to 3-5 when he starts. Detwiler is 0-6 in six career road starts against NL West opponents.
“I don’t feel that great now, but hopefully tomorrow morning I’ll feel a lot better,” he said. “It started spasming up and locked up. I couldn’t get good extension to get the ball where I wanted to. The ball just wasn’t coming out like it usually does.”
Nationals star Bryce Harper returned as a pinch hitter in the ninth for the first time since cutting his chin and hurting his shoulder in a collision with the outfield wall Monday. He grounded out to first base.
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the first on Gonzalez’s RBI single up the middle with two outs. Kemp scored after extending his hitting streak to 14 games with a ground-rule double.
Ethier led off the second with a single. Scott Van Slyke walked, and then Juan Uribe hit into a double play. Greinke followed with a single to right field, his second hit of the season.
The Dodgers made it 3-1 in the eighth on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Carl Crawford.
Washington trailed 2-1 in the fourth on Adam LaRoche’s homer that extended his 12-game hitting streak.
The Nats had the tying run at third base in the eighth. Steve Lombardozzi singled off Kenley Jansen to open the inning before being replaced by pinch runner Eury Perez. He took third on Ryan Zimmerman’s single that dropped in shallow right field. Jansen then retired three consecutive batters to end the inning.
“He throws three or four different pitches, he doesn’t miss over the middle too much and he did a good job,” Zimmerman said about Greinke.
The Dodgers became the first major league team to top 1 million in attendance this season, doing so in 24 home games. The team is averaging 42,707, which leads the majors. … Nationals C Wilson Ramos left the game after he singled in the fourth, having reinjured his left hamstring. … Detwiler walked Van Slyke in the second, snapping a streak of 20 consecutive innings without a walk issued by the Nationals staff. … The Nats have hit at least one home run in 69 consecutive series dating to Sept. 12-15, 2011. … Since Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw threw 132 pitches in a 2-0 win Tuesday, he will be moved back a day and will pitch Monday in Milwaukee. RHP Matt Magill will start Sunday in Atlanta.
This article was originally posted on ESPN.com