Clayton Kershaw had a big night in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

Dodgers Top Nationals 4-3 In Game 5 To Advance To NLCS Vs Cubs

After one day of rest, Kershaw got the final two outs for his first career postseason save to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Nationals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series.

The Dodgers, who won the series 3-2, now advance to face the Chicago Cubs in the NL Championship Series, which begins Saturday at Wrigley Field.

Kershaw and his teammates wildly celebrated both on the field at Nationals Park and in their clubhouse, as they reveled in the fact they had reached the NLCS for the first time since 2013, and their fourth in the past nine seasons.

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter!

A week of sports news in your in-box.
We find the sports news you need to know, so you don't have to.

“One of the best games in history,” said Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez stated.

The home team appeared to agree. “That’s probably one of the craziest, if not the craziest, games I’ve ever been a part of in my career,” Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer said. “Man, this is a tough one to be on the wrong side of.”

Held scoreless through six innings by Scherzer, Los Angeles won the game with a four-run seventh. Joc Pederson smacked a rare home run to left field on the first pitch of the inning to tie it up and chase Scherzer, although Nats manager Dusty Baker defended his decision to allow Scherzer to keep tossing after 98 pitches.

“No, I didn’t think about pulling him then,” said Baker. “It’s easy to say after the fact. If somebody had told me and Max that the guy was going to hit an opposite-field home run, we’d have taken him out then. But how do you take out your — a guy in a 1-0 game? And Max is capable of going 100-some-odd pitches.”

Nationals lefty Marc Rzepczynski walked a slumping Yasmani Grandal on four pitches, Howie Kendrick singled and pinch-hitter Carlos Ruiz hit a key two-out RBI single off Sammy Solis to break the tie. Justin Turner’s two-run triple off Shawn Kelley basically functioned as insurance.

The Dodgers surpassed their typical share of obstacles. Rich Hill, starting on short rest for the first time, didn’t get out of the third frame, although Joe Blanton salvaged his mess. Julio Urias, 20, became the youngest Dodgers pitcher in the postseason and youngest in the Major Leagues since 1970. Urias pitched two busy innings, with a double and a pair of walks. However, Washington ran out of both of the frames, Bryce Harper getting picked off first to end the fifth inning and Jayson Werth thrown out at the plate by 30 feet when sent home on Ryan Zimmerman’s double to close out the sixth.

The Nationals didn’t give up, however, and forced the Dodgers to turn to closer Kenley Jansen in the seventh after trimming the 4-1 lead to 4-3 on former Dodger Chris Heisey’s pinch-hit homer off a Grant Dayton 0-2 pitch. Jansen ultimately tossed a career-high 51 pitches to get seven outs.

“When that happened in the seventh, I want that ball,” said Jansen. “I’m not thinking about the ninth, I want to come out there and try to get some shut-down innings, and I did that.

With runners on first and second in the ninth, Kershaw came on, two days after he started Game 4 of this series, to protect a one-run lead as relief for Jansen and walked Harper and Werth with one out. Kershaw got Daniel Murphy to pop out and struck out Wilmer Difo to seal the win.

“It’s only fitting for Clayton to get the last couple of outs right there,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

Roberts and Baker are the first two African-American managers to ever face off in the postseason.

The Nationals won the NL East for the third time in five years, with hopes of advancing even further, but also for the third time, their postseason has come to an abrupt end.

“You know, you have to persevere,” said Baker. “That’s the story of life. You know, it’s how you deal with the down times and how you deal with pain. And if you just keep persevering, then something will happen, something good will happen. You can’t stop trying. You can’t stop trying to reach your goal.

Roberts said the Dodgers’ Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda will start Game 1 of the NLCS in Chicago on Saturday.

The Nationals open the 2017 season on April 3 at home against the Miami Marlins.

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 13: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with third base coach Chris Woodward #45 after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Read more about:

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Listen to the uInterview Podcast!
Get the most-revealing celebrity conversations with the uInterview podcast!