Maybe the Dodgers wanted Dunn's feared bat to fill the void left by Manny Ramirez's absence, although it's not clear what would become of James Loney. Maybe the Dodgers just wanted to make sure one of the clubs they are chasing for the Wild Card -- like the Giants -- didn't get him.
Maybe they would have won this game if the Dodgers could have found a way to keep the left-handed-hitting Dunn from batting against the left-handed Kershaw, who trailed Dunn, 6-0, after two-plus innings.
Dunn is 7-for-11 with three home runs lifetime against Kershaw.
"I didn't know," Dunn said of his success off Kershaw. "He is not one of my top pitchers to face, I can tell you that. He is really good. Look at his numbers. He is really good. He is only going to get better. How old is he? Twelve, 13? He is only going to get better."
But are the Dodgers going to get better? Although Andre Ethier homered for the second time in three games, the Dodgers lost for the eighth in the last 10 games. First-place San Diego also lost, but Wild Card leader San Francisco won and leads the Dodgers by seven games.
"I think everybody's pretty disappointed," said Ethier, who is 8-for-21 on the homestand. "We had an opportunity to take a series [from San Diego] yesterday, we didn't do it. We came out today flat early and we let these guys get up on us."
Kershaw (10-7) was removed after six innings, charged with the six runs on seven hits, nine strikeouts and two walks. It was the most runs he's allowed since May 4 (seven), the first time he's allowed two homers in a game since April 26, 2009, and he's lost three of four decisions since the All-Star break.
"We fell behind, we're having trouble scoring to begin with and we were fighting an uphill battle," manager Joe Torre said. "We just gave up too much tonight. The mood of the club is all right. I'm not sure we're playing with the greatest confidence in the world."
Four batters into the game, the Dodgers trailed by three runs. With one out in the first, Ian Desmond singled off Kershaw's foot, Ryan Zimmerman walked and Dunn launched a 3-2 fastball that clipped the right-field foul pole for his 29th home run. Had it not hit the pole, it was estimated to land in the Loge Level 460 feet away.
"I don't care about home runs if they're solo," said Kershaw. "What's really frustrating is three-run home runs don't give you much of a chance to come back. When no one's on base, it's no big deal. Walks put people in front, singles put people in front of the home runs and it's pretty much impossible to come back."
Dunn hit No. 30 in the third inning, another off the right-field foul pole on an 0-1 slider after a leadoff walk to Desmond and a single to right by Zimmerman.
"It's no secret. I got behind in the count and he's looking to do one thing and he did it," Kershaw said of Dunn. "He's a great hitter. That said, I've got to execute and I didn't do it. He did what he's supposed to do."
The six RBIs tied Dunn's career high and it was his fifth multi-homer game of the year.
"What Adam did out there today, that's really some big stuff because Kershaw has been really tough on everybody, particularly tough on left-handers," Washington manager Jim Riggleman said. "For Adam to do that against him a couple of times in that ballgame, you are not going to see that too often against Kershaw."
The Dodgers have been shut out 12 times this year, most recently Thursday night, but they put up a modest fight against the Nationals and John Lannan. Ryan Theriot led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and Ethier followed with his 18th home run, tying Matt Kemp for the club high.
One out later, Loney walked, took second on Ivan Rodriguez's passed ball and was singled home by Casey Blake. But the Dodgers didn't get a hit after the fifth inning.
"Everybody's frustrated," said Kershaw, "but nobody's defeated. We've got a lot of games left in the division and against teams ahead of us."
First-base coach Mariano Duncan missed the game with back spasms and was replaced by hitting coach Jeff Pentland.