WASHINGTON -- Matt Kemp returned from the disabled list with a vengeance, smashing RBI hits in his first three at-bats as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 9-2 on Sunday to sweep the three-game series.
Kemp (three hits) had a solo homer and an RBI double in a seven-run second and an RBI single in the fourth to make it 9-1. He lined to left in the sixth and walked in the ninth in a bid for the cycle, which had not been done by a Dodger since Orlando Hudson against the San Francisco Giants in 2009.
But Kemp came up limping after he was forced out at home on a grounder to first with the bases loaded to end the top of the ninth. Kemp did not return to the outfield for the last of the ninth.
Los Angeles (50-47), with 15 hits, has won 20 of its last 25 games while Washington (48-50) has dropped eight of its last 10 and has fallen into third-place in the NL East. The Nationals had just four hits.
Clayton Kershaw (9-6) got the win as he allowed just two hits (solo homers to Jayson Werth) in seven innings with no walks and nine strikeouts. He entered the game with an ERA of 1.98, the best mark in the majors.
The Dodgers scored seven runs in the second off Jordan Zimmermann (12-5), a National League All-Star who did not pitch in the Midsummer Classic due to a sore neck. His neck certainly didn't get any rest in the second inning as he watched two homers fly out of Nationals Park as 11 batters came to the plate.
Kemp crushed a solo homer to make it 1-0. Kershaw drove in a run with a groundout and Carl Crawford (three hits) singled in a run to make it 3-0. Three batters later Hanley Ramirez smashed a three-run homer to give the Dodgers a 6-0 lead. Kemp came up again and hit a double to score Andre Ethier for a 7-0 advantage.
Ethier drove in a run with a groundout in the fourth to make it 8-1 and Kemp came through with his third hit to expand the margin to 9-1.
Werth, who was ejected in Saturday's loss, had broken up the Kershaw shutout bid with a solo homer in the second to make it 7-1. He hit another solo shot in the seventh to make it 9-2 against his former team.
But a season of promise for the Nationals, who won 98 games and the NL East title last year, is quickly spiraling south. Zimmermann lost his first game at Nationals Park since May 17, 2012 -- a span of 14 wins in a row. He lasted just two innings Sunday and gave up seven earned runs.
The light-hitting Nationals will play their 100th game Monday at home with the Pirates and are two games under .500 for just the second time all season. It was the shortest outing of Zimmermann's career. Ross Ohlendorf of the Nationals pitched six innings of relief and gave up two runs.
NOTES: OF Scott Van Slyke was sent to Class AAA Albuquerque to make room for Kemp. ... Rookie sensation Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers was out of the lineup after going hitless in nine at bats in the first two games of the series. ... Washington's Adam LaRoche was back in the lineup at first after he missed the last two games with the flu. With LaRoche back in the lineup, Bryce Harper moved from cleanup to leadoff and he also moved from left to center. Denard Span, the regular center fielder, was out of the lineup as Scott Hairston got his first start for the Nationals, in left field. ... RHP Dan Haren (4-10, 5.61) will pitch for the Nationals on Monday against RHP Charlie Morton (1-2, 3.19) of the Pittsburgh Pirates. ... LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3, 3.09) of the Dodgers will face RHP Josh Johnson (1-5, 5.16) at the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday. ... Carl Crawford had three hits and a walk in five at bats for the Dodgers. He had been 3-for-32 since coming off the DL July 5.