Zack Greinke returned from the DL on Wednesday and pitched 5 1/3 strong innings to help the Dodgers to a 3-1 win over the Nationals. After breaking his left collarbone on April 11 in a bean-ball fight with Padres OF Carlos Quentin, Greinke recovered quickly and gave the Dodgers exactly what they need to get back in the NL west race.

It was only the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner’s third start of the season after signing a huge deal in the offseason to join Clayton Kershaw at the front of the Dodgers’ rotation. Not only did Greinke earn the win after allowing one run on five  hits with  no walks and four K’s, but he also singled in the go-ahead run in the second inning.

The last-place Dodgers still have a long way to go to get into the race, but things appear to be rounding in to shape over the last week or so. After a brutal eight-game losing streak, the club has now won four of its last five games. The top of the rotation is strong as Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu are both 4-2 while Greinke is now 2-0.

The bats aren’t exactly setting the world on fire but the timely hitting that has been lacking much of the season seems to be coming around. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier aren’t hitting for much power, but they are hitting and driving in runs. With Greinke back, the club awaits Hanley Ramirez’ second return from the DL to get to full strength.

And, almost as good as Greinke coming back is the fact that he took Josh Bekcett’s spot on the roster. Beckett has been horrible this year at 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA. He was placed on the DL yesterday with a “groin strain.”