Ben Sheets tosses six scoreless innings in win over Nationals

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After holding the Mets scoreless last Sunday in his first major league start since July 19, 2010, Ben Sheets kept on trucking this afternoon.

Sheets tossed six scoreless innings against the Nationals as part of a 4-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader at Nationals Park. The 34-year-old right-hander gave up just five hits while walking three and striking out six.

After missing all of last season recovering from two major elbow operations, including Tommy John surgery, Sheets now has 12 scoreless innings over his first two starts with the Braves. Just how long he’ll hold up is a legitimate question, but he’s provided quite a lift to Atlanta’s rotation already.

Edwin Jackson suffered the tough-luck loss for the Nationals, giving up just one run over seven innings while striking out nine. His only mistake came on a solo home run by Brian McCann in the top of the second inning. Michael Bourn scored on a wild pitch in the eighth inning while Chipper Jones added a two-run pinch-hit home run in the top of the ninth inning for some insurance.

The Braves have taken the first two games of the weekend series to move to within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Nationals. Randall Delgado will start for the Braves in the nightcap while John Lannan will make his first major league start of the season for the Nationals.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.