Even when he was healthy, Clayton Kershaw would busy himself between starts by standing in a clubhouse hallway, loudly bouncing a baseball off a wall.

But during his recent six-week stint on the disabled list, Kershaw often moved his game of handball to the wall outside Don Mattingly's office. It was his way of reminding the Dodgers manager that he was still there and he could still throw a baseball.

"He was grumpy," Mattingly said. "He just wants to pitch."

On Tuesday, Kershaw found another way to get Mattingly's attention, shutting out the Washington Nationals for seven innings in an 8-3 victory that guarantees the Dodgers a winning record on a nine-game, three-city trip that ends Wednesday.

The left-hander wasn't at this best, spending much of the game pitching out of the stretch after giving up nine hits, all singles. But he was efficient and with the help of two double plays and his own pickoff of a runner at first base, he faced only seven batters over the minimum.


He struck out nine batters and did not walk any, needing only 89 pitches, including 68 strikes, to get through seven innings.

"It's nice to have him back," Mattingly said, knowing that Kershaw's return not only solidified the Dodgers' rotation but had likely quieted the noise outside his office as well.

"He shows you right away what you've been missing. Just a guy that brings that to the table every five days, it's a little reminder of just who he is and what he means to you."