LOS ANGELES -- Zack Greinke did what he has been doing all season: put the Los Angeles Dodgers' pitching back in order. Yasiel Puig did what he hasn't been doing nearly as much this season: dominated the batter's box. The result was a 5-0 win over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
How it happened: A lot of the scrutiny for the Dodgers' middling play lately centered on the failures of the bullpen, but the rotation had a lot to do with that. For one of the few times all season, all five starters had subpar outings by their standards during their last turn. That put undue strain on a bullpen that wasn't great to begin with. Greinke changed directions Tuesday by pitching six scoreless innings. He struck out only six and wasn't all that pitch-efficient, but it was a far cry from his previous outing in Philadelphia, when he allowed five runs before recording an out.
Puig drove in all five runs. The Dodgers knew they were getting a break when Bryce Harper was a late scratch from Washington's lineup due to a knee injury. They didn't know Washington would miss him mostly for his glove.
Clint Robinson, a first baseman most of his career, tried to make a sliding catch on Puig's slicing liner in the fifth inning and missed it, ushering in three two-out runs and letting Puig reach on a triple. Puig hit it over the defense an inning earlier, launching a Joe Ross hanging slider deep into the stands in left-center for a two-run shot. Coming into Tuesday's game, opponents were batting .099 off Ross' slider.
What it means: The Dodgers kept pace with the San Francisco Giants, retaining their 2½-game lead in the NL West. The way the teams in the NL Central have been playing, the West race could be a winner-take-all affair, as the wild card might not be in play. Both teams snapped four-game losing streaks.
Notable: The last time Puig drove in five runs in a game was in June 2013, in his second major league game. ... Yimi Garcia, recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City before the game, did his part to calm some nerves about the bullpen by working two scoreless innings. ... Yasmani Grandal leads all major league catchers with at least 300 plate appearances in OPS. He had a couple of walks and scored a run. ... Andre Ethier sparked the Dodgers' first rally off Ross by hitting a leadoff triple. He made a mistake testing Michael Taylor's arm and would have been out, but Yunel Escobar missed the tag. The umpire originally missed the call, but it was reversed after a replay review. ... Alberto Callaspo made two fine defensive plays at third base and went 2-for-4 with a run scored. His roster spot could be in jeopardy when the Dodgers activate Justin Turner, perhaps as early as Friday.
Up next: The rubber game of the series is Wednesday night at 7:10 PT. Clayton Kershaw (9-6, 2.51 ERA) gets back on the mound after seeing his 37-inning scoreless streak snapped on his first pitch in Pittsburgh over the weekend. The Dodgers will be facing right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (8-7, 3.44 ERA).