LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers used high noon on Wednesday to showcase a pair of returns, shining a light on the fact that the injury outlook appears bright again.
Andrew Heaney returned from his second stint on the injured list because of shoulder inflammation by giving up one hit over four scoreless innings during a rare midweek day game at Dodger Stadium that ended in a 7-1 victory over the Washington Nationals.
Heaney was staked to a six-run lead following a first-inning offensive outburst that was started by Justin Turner in his first game back from abdominal tightness. The Dodgers scored six two-out runs in the first with an avalanche that began when Turner dunked an RBI single to left field.
The early advantage multiplied quickly in the opening inning with an RBI single from Trayce Thompson, a two-run double from Hanser Alberto, an RBI single from Austin Barnes and a run-scoring double from Gavin Lux that should have been the last out but fell untouched between Nationals center fielder Victor Robles and right fielder Juan Soto.
It was the kind of play the Nationals had avoided making when they won the first two games of the series and were on the brink of their first series sweep during a miserable season that has them dead last in the National League.
Roles finally were adjusted in the series finale, with the NL-leading Dodgers again looking like the club that scored 6.5 runs per game during a season-best eight-game winning streak that ended with the Nationals’ arrival into town.
While Washington’s bullpen suffocated the Dodgers each of the past two games, their score-early approach Wednesday led to Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin making the shortest start of his career at two-thirds of an inning. In 250 career starts, Corbin has failed to get through at least two innings just four times.
After waiting 5½ weeks to get back on the mound, Heaney then had to wait out his own offense as it batted around in the opening inning. But he already had a scoreless inning in the bank at that point.
While Heaney did walk three batters, with four strikeouts, the Dodgers saw what they were looking for in the 71-pitch outing.
After Reyes Moronta wobbled in Monday’s defeat, and Garrett Cleavinger was pounded in Tuesday’s loss, the Dodgers’ bullpen was aligned once again Wednesday. Only newcomer Jake Reed gave up a run on consecutive doubles by Lane Thomas and Luis Garcia in the seventh inning. The Dodgers matched that on Lux’s RBI single in the eighth.
By then, Freddie Freeman had been given the rest of the day off, Mookie Betts moved from right field to second base and Alberto took over at shortstop. Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger were able to get a full day of rest.
Nationals star Juan Soto, who has been linked to the Dodgers among other trade rumors, went 0 for 3 with a walk Wednesday and was just 2 for 11 in the series.
With Justin Turner and Heaney back contributing, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts talked Wednesday morning about timetables for relievers Tommy Kahnle (forearm), Blake Treinen (shoulder) and Brusdar Graterol (shoulder). Walker Buehler continues to recover from his forearm strain while Dustin May is close to coming back from Tommy John surgery.
They all should be back in due time. Perhaps the Dodgers can make it at noon.
More to come on this story.