Dodgers season could end Tuesday as Nationals take NLDS Game 3


first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “It’s tough, man,” a dejected Kenley Jansen said after giving up four runs in a non-save situation in the ninth inning that turned the game from a one-run mystery into a sealed deal. “Down 2-1 right now, we’ve gotta fight. No way around it.“We can’t worry about what happened the last two days. We just have to flip the script, compete and win a game.”• Video: NLDS Game 3 recap• Photos: Dodgers pushed to the brinkWhat has happened the past two days is bi-coastal déjà vu with the Dodgers facing an elimination game in an NLDS Game 4 for the third consecutive October and weighing the risk-reward of starting their ace, Clayton Kershaw, on short rest to extend the series. It is a decision Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was not prepared to announce following Monday’s game. “We’re not afraid of this,” Roberts said. “It’s been a long season. It’s been a lot of highs and lows. But I know there’s no quit in our guys.”There has not been a lot of offense in his guys, however. The series – featuring the two teams with the lowest bullpen ERAs in the majors this season — has been an example of 21st century baseball with starting pitchers pushed to the side early and a relay team of relatively faceless relievers used to pursue favorable matchups.The Nationals’ Game 1 starter, Max Scherzer, completed six innings – a herculean workload in this series. No other starter has even thrown a pitch in a sixth inning. Kershaw completed five in Game 1. Every other starter has been gone by the end of the fifth.Kenta Maeda made the shortest cameo appearance. The Dodgers’ starter had difficulties aligning with home plate umpire Ron Kulpa’s strike zone in the first inning and had to strike Ryan Zimmerman out with the bases loaded to escape damage.“It’s part of baseball to have different kinds of strike zones,” Maeda said diplomatically through his interpreter. “My job is to make sure I execute my pitches and I didn’t.”The Nationals took advantage in the third inning scoring four runs on Jayson Werth’s RBI double, Bryce Harper’s RBI single and Anthony Rendon’s two-run home run.That was the end of Maeda’s day. Roberts pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the third, searching for some offense against Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez.Corey Seager gave him some in the first inning. This time, it was an RBI double from the rookie shortstop (not the first-inning home run he hit in each of the first two games).The Dodgers’ normal malaise against left-handed pitching set in after that – until Carlos Ruiz came off the bench to pinch-hit in the fifth inning. The only player on the Dodgers’ postseason roster to have hit a home run off Gonzalez, Ruiz did it again, launching a two-run shot into the left-field pavilion.The Nationals’ bullpen took over from there.Sammy Solis, Oliver Perez, Shawn Kelley and Mark Melancon combined to hold the Dodgers to two hits over the final 4-2/3 innings, allowing no runner past first base in that time. On Sunday in Washington, a similar tag team from the Nats’ bullpen held the Dodgers to one hit over the final 4-2/3 innings to preserve a 5-2 win in Game 2.“It’s exciting,” Rendon said of the Nationals’ bullpen before thinking better of his word choice. “I guess it could be maybe a little boring at times because they get everybody out. … Knock on wood.”The Nats relievers have avoided contact with wood fairly successfully. In the series, the Dodgers have batted .140 (6 for 43) with 14 strikeouts against them over 12 1/3 scoreless innings.“We had a gameplan but today, for the most part, they just executed better,” Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. “They have good arms out there and they’ve got guys that give you different looks. I mean, Melancon has that sinker. Oliver gives you a little funk. Solis is more of a power guy. Kelley was the first right-hander I’ve seen other than Melancon and he kept the ball down.”Their job became easier in the ninth when Roberts brought Jansen in to keep the one-run deficit in place. Jansen was terrible. He gave up a 450-foot home run to Werth, walked two and gave up two more runs when Josh Reddick couldn’t hold Ryan Zimmerman’s drive at the wall in right field. Zimmerman scored on a sacrifice fly.center_img LOS ANGELES >> A team beset by a run of injuries, relying far more on its bullpen than its short-handed starting rotation and getting spread-out slugging from its lineup, is one game away from advancing to the National League Championship Series.It is not the Dodgers.The Washington Nationals – minus their starting catcher (Wilson Ramos) and No. 2 starter (Stephen Strasburg) most prominently – pushed the Dodgers to the brink of elimination Monday afternoon at Dodger Stadium by scoring four times in the third inning, turning the game over to its bullpen and then piling on later for an 8-3 victory in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.The win puts the Nationals up two games to one in the best-of-five series with Game 4 scheduled for Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.last_img

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