The Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg show would not hit town for another 24 hours, but Friday night offered enough to tide over the 44,807 at Dodger Stadium. Two surprise first-place teams, owners of the two best records in the National League, squared off. Prior to their biggest move this season, the Washington Nationals would receive their biggest test, against the reigning Cy Young award winner and the best player on the planet.

The Nationals acquitted themselves well enough to lose just barely to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw's eight sparkling innings and too much Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier lifted the Dodgers to a 3-2 victory, handing the Nationals consecutive losses for the second time this year.

Ross Detwiler pitched well enough to win, allowing three runs over six innings on just five hits, striking out four. But the Nationals generated only three hits, including a two-run homer by Adam LaRoche, their offensive savior. The performance served as the latest reminder why the Nationals summoned Harper as both a salve and a run-scoring boost.

"Kind of discouraging," Manager Davey Johnson said. "We had one more run than last night, but we still had three hits."