Thursday night decided the final team headed to the National League Championship Series that starts on Saturday night in Chicago. The visiting LA Dodgers took down the Washington Nationals, 4-3.
In Game 5 of the NLDS in Washington, Nationals starter Max Scherzer carried a no-hitter into the 5th inning, when Josh Reddick led off the inning with a single.
Meanwhile, Dodgers starter Rich Hill (starting on short rest) lasted just 2.2 innings. He allowed a run and left with runners on the corners and two outs for former KC Royal Joe Blanton. Blanton continued his dominance out of the Dodgers bullpen with 1.1 perfect innings of relief (18 pitches, 12 strikes). He was pinch-hit for in the top of the 5th with the bases loaded, but they did not score.
The Dodgers finally broke through against Scherzer in the 7th inning when Joc Pederson led off with a home run (which ended Scherzer’s night). Much like the SF Giants on Tuesday night, it took five Nats relievers to get three outs. Those five relievers allowed three runs on three hits and a walk. Carlos Ruiz drove in the go ahead run off Sammy Solis and Justin Turner tripled in two runs off Shawn Kelley.
The Turner triple proved huge, as the Nationals came back in the bottom of the seventh on a two-run home run from pinch-hitter Chris Heisey (off Dodgers relievers Grant Dayton). Former Royal Clint Robinson (who entered on defense in the top of the inning) singled to chase Dayton from the game. Robinson was pinch-run for by Tuesday’s starting pitcher Joe Ross.
That brought in closer Kenley Jansen, who allowed a single and a walk before escaping the bases loaded jam. Jansen batted in the eighth (he used to be a catcher) and went back out to close out the game. He threw a career-high 51 pitches and was pulled with two on (two walks) and one out in favor of ace Clayton Kershaw, who started Tuesday’s game on short rest and threw over 100 pitches.
Kershaw faced Daniel Murphy, a left-handed hitter, who popped up in the infield for the second out. Next up was rookie Wilmer Difo to pinch-hit for pitcher Mark Melancon. Difo struck out to end the game and give Kershaw his first career save.
Who will the Dodgers be starting over the weekend now?