LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw made it sound as if he had a rough day. It looked pretty good to everyone else.
But Kershaw also walked three and said he was not particularly sharp.
"I didn't have much today in the tank," he said. "I felt fine, it just wasn't coming out quite the way I wanted to today. I felt like I threw a lot of off-speed pitches. That's good lineup, too. They have a really good team over there. I'm fortunate to get a win."
Strasburg (7-2) struck out eight in six innings in his first loss since April 29. The ace right-hander was 5-0 with a 2.75 ERA in his previous six starts.
Ryan Zimmerman hit his 17th homer for Washington in the second, and Strasburg sailed into the sixth inning before running into trouble.
"I don't think we were giving at-bats away," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I think Stephen was good today. He elevated his game."
Roberts said one of Kershaw's biggest contributions came at the plate when he forced Strasburg to throw nine pitches before grounding out in the sixth. Chris Taylor followed with another eight-pitch at-bat that ended with another groundout.
"That was huge," Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager said. "(Kershaw) got his pitch count up a little bit and then (Taylor) did the same thing. It's hard to throw when you have those long innings like that. Eventually you'll make a mistake."
Seager connected on one, hitting a drive to center for his eighth homer. Strasburg came back to strike out Adrian Gonzalez, but strike three got by catcher Jose Lobaton and Gonzalez reached on the passed ball.
After Gonzalez advanced on a wild pitch, Grandal lined a double past diving left fielder Ryan Raburn for a 2-1 lead.
"When you're playing close games like that against a great pitcher -- two great pitchers -- there's usually a mistake here, a mistake that's the difference in the game," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.
In a rematch of last year's NL Division Series, won by Los Angeles in five games, the NL-leading Nationals took two of three from the Dodgers.
"We feel pretty good," Baker said. "We certainly would have wanted this one. But they're tough to sweep here."
The Nationals had a chance to tie it in the eighth, but the Dodgers wiggled out of the jam.
Trea Turner led off with a triple off the center-field wall. But Rayburn struck out and Baez snagged a hot comebacker from Bryce Harper to catch Turner in a rundown. Jansen then retired Zimmerman on another comebacker.
It was Jansen's fifth four-plus out save of the year.
"He's had three days off, this was a big game and we have a day off tomorrow," Roberts said. "It made sense."
Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner (hamstring) went through a simulated game and is expected to be activated Friday. ... CF Joc Pederson (concussion, strained neck) is scheduled to start an every-other-day rehab program on Friday. ... LHP Alex Wood (inflamed shoulder) is scheduled to come off the disabled list and start Saturday. Roberts said that would necessitate right-hander Kenta Maeda moving to the bullpen.
The Nationals went 7-2 on their nine-game West Coast trip to San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles.
"If somebody had told you when we left home, `You'll go 7-2,' I'm sure everyone would be more than satisfied," Baker said. "But when it could have been 8-1 -- not satisfying."
STAY OR GO
Roberts initially was going to let Kershaw pitch into the eighth, and let him hit in the seventh. Instead, he went to Baez.
"He didn't have his best stuff and those guys were taking some good swings," Roberts said. "As I thought through it, I changed my mind."
Nationals: Return home Thursday to play a makeup game against the Orioles. Right-hander Joe Ross (2-2) will try to recover from two consecutive poor starts.
Dodgers: After an off day, left-hander Rich Hill (2-2) is scheduled to open a three-game home series against the Reds on Friday. Hill lasted only four innings in his last start in Milwaukee.
Hill expected to start for the Mets against the Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies (76-72, second in the NL East) vs. New York Mets (72-77, third in the NL East)
Pittsburgh to visit Miami Sunday
Pittsburgh Pirates (56-92, fifth in the NL Central) vs. Miami Marlins (62-86, fourth in the NL East)
McClanahan expected to start for Tampa Bay against Detroit
Detroit Tigers (71-78, third in the AL Central) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (92-57, first in the AL East)
Happ expected to start as Cardinals host the Padres
San Diego Padres (76-72, third in the NL West) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (78-69, second in the NL Central)
Kershaw expected to start for the Dodgers against Reds
Los Angeles Dodgers (95-54, second in the NL West) vs. Cincinnati Reds (77-72, third in the NL Central)
Sampson expected to start for the Cubs against Brewers
Chicago Cubs (66-83, fourth in the NL Central) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (91-57, first in the NL Central)