By the third month of the baseball season, the Dodgers resembled a sinking ship, and their Manager Don Mattingly was on the verge of walking the plank.
On June 22, there was a remarkable turnaround, as the Blue Crew (50-47) got healthy, added Cuban outfield sensation Yasiel Puig earlier in the month, and since that time have carved out a 20-5 mark, including a three-game sweep of the host Washington Nationals this past weekend.
In Sunday’s 9-2 romp, Matt Kemp returned to the lineup after serving a 15-day stint on the disabled list with a shoulder ailment, and in his initial at-bat hammered a solo homer to left field during the seven-run, second inning, then lined a run-scoring double in the same frame, singled in the fourth for a run, but injured his left ankle while trying to score in the ninth.
Clayton Kershaw, who pitched a scoreless inning in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the American League in the All-Star Game in New York, drove in a run with a grounder in the second, Carl Crawford (three hits and a run scored) singled in a run to make it 3-0, Hanley Ramirez clobbered his 10th homer to left field for a 6-0 lead, and Kemp’s run-producing two-base hit made it 7-0.
“We feel good about our team, and where we’re at,’’ said second baseman Mark Ellis, who had three hits with a run scored. “When we got our injured players back, we’ve made our lineup longer. Now we expect to win every game.”
One-time Dodger Jayson Werth solved Kershaw, as he launched a solo homer in the second inning, then added a cannon shot in the seventh.
The Dodgers made it 9-1 with two runs in the fourth inning as Andre Ethier grounded out for a run batted in, while Kemp had an RBI single.
Kershaw (9-6) struck out nine and walked none, allowing two hits and two runs (earned) in seven innings.
The Dodgers posted a 3-1 victory on Saturday against the Nationals, as Ramirez (three hits) doubled to center in the 10th inning that plated Adrian Gonzalez, who also doubled, and Ethier’s sacrifice fly brought in Ramirez.
After Washington took a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning, the Dodgers countered as Ellis had an RBI single in the seventh that tied it.
Zack Greinke didn’t get the decision, but lasted six innings, yielding seven hits, one run (earned), walking three and fanning three.
In Friday’s 3-2 win, Ethier’s solo homer in the ninth inning decided the issue, and Ramirez’s two-run poke in the third inning gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.