Dodgers Video: Clayton Kershaw Overpowers Bryce Harper, Nationals
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The stars were aligned for the series opener between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals on Monday night at Dodger Stadium — both literally and figuratively — until roughly one hour prior to first pitch.

A scheduled matchup between aces Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg was suddenly relegated to Kershaw and Yusmeiro Petit. Strasburg was a late scratch due to an upper back strain. The earliest meeting (by calendar date) between 10-game winners in National League in over 100 years was no more.

The show went on and Kershaw still needed to do his part against the National League East leaders and their potent lineup.

The Dodgers’ ace retired the side in order in the first inning, getting back-to-back strikeouts of Jayson Werth and reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper. Pitching with a 1-0 lead after the first, courtesy of another Justin Turner home run, Kershaw was perfect into the third inning.

That came to an unlikely end on Petit’s chopper up the middle that carried into center field for a two-out single. Nothing came of it, and it wasn’t until the seventh inning when the Nationals finally managed to break through.

A trio of singles eventually led to Washington cutting their deficit to 3-1. That was as close as they got, however, with Kershaw tallying eight strikeouts to zero walks through seven innings.

Harper had a particularly rough evening, going 0-for-3 against Kershaw with three strikeouts. His lone hit came on a cue-shot infield single in the eighth.