By Michael Marzzacco
Nobody said it was gonna be easy.
After the Nationals came into LA to take Game 3, the Dodgers had their backs against the wall. They turned to their best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw and multiple two-out rallies to keep their season alive. Now both teams will return to DC for a decisive, winner take all, Game 5.
The Nats didn’t go down quietly despite trailing for much of the game. They rallied with a three run seventh to tie the contest at 5 before faltering in the eighth inning.
Washington got on the board in the first inning with a great start. Trea Turner led off the game with a single into left field. Bryce Harper got on with a walk. With runners on second and third, Daniel Murphy singled into right field and Turner used his speed to make it to home just before the tag.
The Dodgers answered in the bottom frame with a tw0-run homer by Adrian Gonzalez off of Nats starter Joe Ross. A sacrifice fly by Murphy in the third was deep enough to score Turner from third to tie the game at 2.
In the bottom of the third, the Dodgers retook the lead. Kershaw led off the inning with a double. Ross struk out Chase Utley and got rookie Corey Seager to pop out but Justin Turner answered with a single that scored Kershaw. The Dodgers then loaded the bases and Ross hit Joc Pederson which gave them another run. It took Ross out of the game. The 23-year old right hander finished the afternoon with giving up four runs on three hits while striking out three in 2.2 innings.
Oliver Perez came in and worked 1.1 innings, striking out two and allowing no runs. Reynaldo Lopez came in during the fifth inning and got the first two batters out before allowing a single to Josh Reddick. Pederson brought him home on a double to left field.
The Nationals rallied in the seventh. Danny Espinosa finally got his first hit of the entire postseason, singling to left field. With two outs and Espinosa at first, Turner got a base hit to keep the inning alive. Harper drew a walk to load the bases. Werth then got hit by a pitch to score Espinosa to pull the Nats within two. After a pitching change, Murphy singled into center field to score Turner and Harper to even the score at 5.
The Dodgers scored in the bottom of the eighth off of Blake Treinen. The meltdown started when Andrew Toles got hit by a pitch. Andre Ethier followed with a single. Utley delivered the big blow with a base hit into left field that scored Toles. The Dodgers slammed the door in the ninth to take the series back to DC for Game 5.
The Nationals will send Max Scherzer to the mound on Thursday night. With their best pitcher on the hill and an electric atmosphere at Nat Park, Scherzer is up for the challenge at hand.
“If it’s anything like Game 1 (his last start), it’s going to be such a thrill. Game 1 was unbelievable there in D.C. The fans were just going nuts from the first pitch. So the fact that it’s going to be Game 5, I mean – our fans really brought it in Game 1, so I can only imagine the atmosphere going into Game 5,” said Scherzer.
With the Cubs win over the Giants, first pitch will take place at 8:08. Nationals fans will be out in full force all decked out in red hoping to see some history made by their ballclub. Will the Nationals finally end the DC sports conference championship appearance drought or will DC fans suffer another heartbreak and missed opportunity by one of their beloved teams? Tune in this Thursday to find out.