Puig's 5 RBIs help Greinke and Dodgers beat Nationals 5-0
LOS ANGELES (AP) Zack Greinke is the ultimate hangover cure for the Los Angeles Dodgers after a loss.
The one-man streak buster gets his teammates back in the win column when they're down, and he did it again Tuesday night.
Greinke pitched six sharp innings, Yasiel Puig drove in a career high-tying five runs and the Dodgers snapped a season-worst four-game skid with a 5-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.
''I don't put any extra pressure in those situations,'' said Greinke, who is 24-6 in 41 starts following a Dodgers' loss, with the team posting a 31-10 record in those games.
Greinke (12-2) allowed six hits, struck out six and walked four to win his seventh straight decision, improving to 7-0 with a 1.56 ERA in eight starts since June 28. He lowered his major league-leading ERA to 1.65.
''Not easy, that's for sure,'' he said. ''I got in some jams early and was really trying hard to get the first guy out the rest of the game.''
Greinke blanked the Nats for the second consecutive start after throwing eight scoreless innings on July 19 in Washington. The right-hander bounced back from a struggle in his last start at Philadelphia, where he allowed five runs before retiring a batter but eventually earned the victory.
''We hang our hats on our pitching as far as our starters setting the tone for us,'' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Puig homered into the pavilion in left field in the fourth to score Andre Ethier, whose leadoff triple stood up after the Nationals challenged the call. Replays showed third baseman Yunel Escobar didn't tag Ethier's leg before he reached the bag.
Ethier thought about pulling up at second and then decided on his own to test center fielder Michael Taylor's arm by going for the extra base. Ethier found out Taylor has a cannon that rivals Puig's.
''I didn't know it was that good,'' Ethier said. ''That ball beat me for sure, but it took a high hop and I felt I got underneath it. He tagged me high. We got away with one and got a little momentum going.''
Puig struggled Monday in the Dodgers' 8-3 loss in the series opener, going 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. In his first at-bat against rookie Joe Ross, he flied out to center with two runners on in the second.
''I have the same swing, just been having trouble connecting,'' Puig said.
Puig extended the lead to 5-0 in the fifth with a bases-loaded triple that right fielder Clint Robinson misplayed. It scored Jimmy Rollins and Alberto Callaspo, who reached on singles, and Yasmani Grandal, who walked. That chased Ross (3-4), who gave up five runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings. He walked four and struck out one.
''I tried to slide for it and make the catch, and I just couldn't get there,'' Robinson said. ''With two outs right there, I'm not going to go in there and just lay up and let them score another run. I just didn't have the speed to get there.''
It was Puig's second five-RBI game, equaling his performance on June 14, 2013, in his second major league game. His five homers since the All-Star break lead the Dodgers.
Nationals: OF Bryce Harper was held out of the lineup with a sore left knee. He hurt it while making a sliding catch Monday and it swelled up overnight, limiting his mobility.
Dodgers: RHP Joel Peralta went on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Monday, with a right neck sprain. He has appeared in 25 games this season, going 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA and three saves. ''I can't finish my pitches and the release point is an issue,'' Peralta said. ''I haven't been able to command the fastball and the split-finger.'' ... INF Justin Turner, on the 15-day DL with a skin infection on his right thigh, returned to Los Angeles from Arizona, where he took live batting practice. The team hopes he will be back in the lineup by this weekend.
RARE EXTRA-BASE HIT
Puig's homer was the first extra-base hit Ross allowed to a right-handed batter in his major league career. He faced 100 righties before surrendering an extra-base hit.
''It was the right pitch to throw. I just hung it over the middle, and you can't make mistakes like that because he'll hit it out of the park,'' Ross said. ''I just wanted to stay aggressive with him and not try to get that first-pitch strike by laying it in there. With him, you've got to attack the zone but execute a good pitch and not give in.''
Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins is living up to his vow to be better in the second half of the season. He hit safely for the 11th time in his last 12 games, batting .302 with five doubles, a triple and two RBIs since July 29. He leads active players with 245 career hits against the Nationals and old Montreal Expos.
Nationals: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (8-7, 3.44 ERA) was 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 2013 and 2014 at Dodger Stadium. He never allowed more than two earned runs and pitched into at least the seventh inning every time.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (9-6, 2.51) had his 37-inning scoreless streak snapped in the first inning of his last start against Pittsburgh. He is 8-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 12 career games against the Nationals.