WASHINGTON — Clayton Kershaw admitted he was nervous about making his first start in six weeks.

Apparently it’s nothing new. He just hides it well.

Kershaw pitched seven shutout innings in his first outing since opening day, and Hanley Ramirez and Drew Butera homered to help the Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the Washington Nationals 8-3 Tuesday night.

“I’m always nervous, every time I start,” Kershaw said. “You want to do well. Same type of nerves tonight, but after the first inning I was able to settle in OK.”

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The two-time NL Cy Young winner had been on the disabled list for the first time in his career, sidelined by a strained back muscle after winning March 22 in the major league opener in Australia.

“He shows you right away what you’ve been missing,” said manager Don Mattingly, whose Dodgers began the day third place in the N.L. West. “Just a guy that brings that to the table every five days. It’s a little reminder of who he is and what he means to you.”

The Dodgers collected 14 hits despite keeping outfielder Yasiel Puig out for the second straight game since he crashed into an outfield wall in the ninth inning Sunday at Miami.


• Injured Tampa Bay pitcher Alex Cobb could rejoin the rotation late this month. Cobb went on the 15-day disabled list April 13 with a strained oblique in his left side.

• Minnesota first baseman Joe Mauer (lower back) was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game.

• Indians center fielder Michael Bourn missed his third straight game with a tight left hamstring. Bourn hopes he’ll be able to play again in a couple of days.