Dodgers stay hot, blank Cubs in record-setting road win

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As recently as June 22, the Dodgers were 31-42, 9.5 games out of first place in the NL West. Among other problems, they were dealing with a slew of injuries and were considering dealing Andre Ethier in what looked like a lost season. With a 3-0 victory over the Cubs this afternoon, the Dodgers improved to 60-49, 4.5 games ahead of the Diamondbacks in first place.

Chris Capuano tossed six and one-third shutout innings, allowing six hits and one walk while striking out five. Kenley Jansen tossed a scoreless ninth for the save, his 16th of the year. Jerry Hairston put the Dodgers on the board with an RBI single in the third inning. Carl Crawford added two more runs on a single in the sixth.

The Dodgers have won seven of their last eight games, but more impressively, it was their 13th consecutive victory on the road:

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.