LOS ANGELES -- Zack Greinke was everything the Los Angeles Dodgers hoped for Wednesday, and their offense was just potent enough to make him a winner in his first start in a month.
For one night, everything was right with the Dodgers as they beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 at Dodger Stadium for their second win in a row.
"It was fun," Greinke said after pitching 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. "It was a good game all the way around. We played well."
When Greinke was last seen in a big-league game, he was bracing himself for the arrival of charging Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin at the lip of the mound at Petco Park in San Diego.
Greinke had just hit Quentin with a pitch, and according to Quentin, compounded the situation by saying something to him.
A fight followed, and Greinke wound up with a fractured left clavicle and a spot on the disabled list.
He returned weeks earlier than expected Wednesday, and while he wasn't prepared to go deep into the game, he was more than ready to put the Dodgers in position to win the game.
Greinke (2-0) was lifted in the sixth inning before facing Adam LaRoche, who homered off him in the top of the fourth. Aside from the homer, the Dodgers right-hander was mostly effective while giving up five hits and striking out four on 83 pitches, including 50 strikes.
"For him to give us five innings tonight, it just tells you about how talented this kid is," Mattingly said. "He worked his butt off. He wanted to get back as soon as possible, and he wanted to be competitive. And he was."
Greinke left with a 2-1 lead thanks to Adrian Gonzalez's single in the first that scored Matt Kemp, who hit a ground-rule double, and the pitcher's own second-inning single that scored Andre Ethier.
Pinch hitter Carl Crawford knocked in the game's final run with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly.
Five Dodgers relievers pitched scoreless ball behind Greinke, leading Los Angeles to its fourth win in five games. Brandon League got three outs for his ninth save.
Meanwhile, Greinke felt fine afterward.
"It's not 100 percent, but it doesn't restrict me at all when I pitch," he said of his collarbone.
The Nationals lost for the fourth time in five games. Monday's game marked their only win at Dodger Stadium since 2006.
It didn't help that starter Ross Detwiler managed just three innings before departing with lower back spasms and catcher Wilson Ramos left in the fourth inning after aggravating a hamstring injury.
"I don't feel that great now, but hopefully tomorrow morning I'll feel a lot better," Detwiler said. "It started spasming up and locked up. I couldn't get good extension to get the ball where I wanted to.
"I think it was affecting me more when I was trying to run (in the second inning). I put a bunt down and felt it a little bit there."
Washington's two losses the past two days came against two former Cy Young Award winners, Clayton Kershaw and Greinke.
"We faced two pretty good pitchers," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "We think we can do better than zero runs and one run. You've got to give them credit sometimes. The first night in we did a great job and put some runs up on the board. Last night Kershaw was really good. Tonight Greinke came back and did well, but we have to do better. We have to put some runs on the board."
The Nationals had their opportunities, putting runners on base in the eighth and ninth innings, but Dodgers relievers Kenley Jansen and League both worked out of jams.
"We gave ourselves a chance but couldn't come through. But we'll keep working," Zimmerman said.
NOTES: RF Bryce Harper was out of the Washington lineup for the second straight game after colliding with the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium on Monday. The Nationals insist Harper did not suffer a concussion in the collision, and he's twice undergone a Sport Concussion Assessment Tool test administered by an outside doctor. Unlike Tuesday, when he complained of nausea and was held out of all activities, Harper took a normal batting practice Wednesday and warmed up with his teammates. He grounded out as a pinch hitter, and he might be ready to return to the lineup Thursday in San Diego. ... To make room for Greinke's return, the Dodgers put RHP Josh Beckett on the DL retroactive to May 14 with a strained right groin. Beckett tweaked the groin Monday against the Nationals, and it had not improved by Wednesday. "If he had walked in the next day going, 'I don't really feel this at all. I can go play catch and throw right now.' then you'd have a better indicator," manager Don Mattingly said. "But on the second day when he says 'I really don't feel like I can play catch,' it's a no brainer because you know he's not going to be able to make his next start."