Dodgers’ bats wake up in dominant NLDS Game 3 victory over Nationals

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, right, celebrates with teammate Max Muncy after hitting a three-run home run against the Washington Nationals in the sixth inning.
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After falling behind early, the Dodgers scored seven runs in the sixth to seal the win in Game 3 and take a 2-1 NLDS lead.

The Dodgers score seven runs in the sixth inning to defeat the Washington Nationals 10-4 and take a 2-1 lead in the National League Division Series.

Dodgers rally late and take momentum back from Nationals

Dodgers outfielders (from left to right) Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger and Kike Hernandez celebrate the team's victory over the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of the NLDS on Sunday.
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The weapon the Washington Nationals were betting on wiping out the Dodgers, a 6-foot-3 left-handed thorn in their sides the last two seasons, emerged from the bullpen in the sixth inning Sunday. Patrick Corbin appeared with the Nationals nursing a one-run lead. The Dodgers were 12 outs away from losing Game 3 of the National League Division Series. Corbin was tasked to finish the job three days after starting Game 1.

Corbin was the second starting pitcher he Nationals deployed out of the bullpen in the series as they attempt to advance with just two relievers they trust. Max Scherzer retired the side in the eighth inning of Game 2. The Dodgers came to life in the sequel as Russell Martin and Enrique Hernandez each delivered two-out, two-run, perhaps season-saving doubles off Corbin to fuel a stunning seven-run inning and eventual 10-4 victory.

They will play Game 4 on Monday with a 2-1 series lead and a chance to reach the National League Championship Series for the fourth straight season.



Not even ‘Baby Shark’ can help Nationals as Dodgers lead 8-4 in eighth

Not even “Baby Shark” could spark the Nationals. Geraldo Parra led off the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter, his catchy children’s walk-up song was played and the fans stood and produced their best chomp-chomp shark-ish arm motions.

Cute, but everybody sat down when Parra rolled over the second pitch from Julio Urias for an easy groundout to first base.

The Nationals answered the Dodgers’ seven-run, sixth-inning explosion with two runs in the bottom of the inning against a wild Joe Kelly, but Urias put out the fire and sailed through the seventh as well.


Dodgers rally to 8-2 lead behind veterans, pinch-hitters and Justin Turner

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Patrick Corbin covers his face after allowing a two-run double to Los Angeles Dodgers Russell Martin during the sixth inning in Game 3 of a baseball National League Division Series.

It took the Dodgers’ two oldest position players to give the team a spark. After David Freese, 36, singled with two out in the sixth inning to advance Cody Bellinger to third base, Russell Martin, 36, crushed a Patrick Corbin slider for a two-run double to left-center that put the Dodgers up 3-2.

Everyone in the Dodgers dugout seemed to relax, and sure enough, everybody starting hitting.

Giving a young roster strong veteran leadership all season, Freese and Martin proved they can also deliver on the field in a crucial moment.

The two-out rally continued with a walk to pinch-hitter Chris Taylor and a two-run double by pinch-hitter Kike Hernandez, knocking Corbin from the game.

All of a sudden, the Dodgers led 5-2 and the Nationals were forced to dip deeper into their suspect bullpen. Moments later, Justin Turner hit a three-run home run and the Dodgers enjoyed an 8-2 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.


Dodgers score on Max Muncy’s homer, but are striking out too much

Los Angeles Dodgers Max Muncy (13) celebrates his solo home run off Washington Nationals starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez with Cody Bellinger (35) during the fifth inning in Game 3 of a baseball National League Division Series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Max Muncy got the Dodgers on the scoreboard by crushing an 0-2 pitch from Anibal Sanchez into the right-field seats with two out in the fifth inning, cutting the Nationals’ lead to 2-1.

Muncy and Justin Turner are the only Dodgers making consistent contact, however, going a combined six for 18 with four strikeouts.

Lack of contact is a huge problem for the Dodgers in the series. Sanchez struck out nine in five innings on top of the 17 Dodgers strikeouts in Game 2 and 12 Dodgers strikeouts in Game 1.

That’s a total of 38 strikeouts out of 66 total outs (57.6%).

A.J. Pollock is the most helpless Dodgers hitter, striking out eight times in 10 hitless at-bats. Cody Bellinger has punched out five times in eight hitless at-bats.

It looks like Sanchez is done after five innings and 87 pitches. Left-hander Patrick Corbin, the Nationals’ starter in Game 1, appears to be first man out of the bullpen.


Sanchez’s changeup is causing problems for Dodgers hitters

Nationals starter Anibal Sanchez is flummoxing the Dodgers with a pitch he calls his “butterfly” changeup. It’s not a knuckleball and it’s not an eephus. But it floats into the strike zone at about 75 mph and is nearly impossible to time. At least for the Dodgers.

Sanchez struck out five in a row beginning with the last out of the first inning and ending with the first out of the third. Justin Turner doubled off the right-field wall with two out in the third, but Cody Bellinger skied a good pitch to hit to right-fielder Adam Eaton to end the inning.

Bellinger is still looking for his first hit of the NLDS and the Dodgers are still losing 2-0 in Game 3.


Juan Soto gives Nationals early lead with two-run homer in first inning

The Nationals were able to keep their crowd engaged as Juan Soto hit a Hyun-Jin Ryu high fastball over the center field wall for an early 2-0 lead in the first inning.

It is now up to the Dodgers offense, which has struggled to take advantage of run-scoring opportunities to scratch across some runs to avoid falling behind 1-2 in the best of five NLDS.


Dodgers squander bases loaded chance in first inning

Washington Nationals starter Anibal Sanchez delivers during the first inning of Game 3 of the NLDS.
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Nationals starter Anibal Sanchez needed 28 pitches to get through the first inning Sunday, a victory for the Dodgers because the sooner they get to the Nationals’ bullpen, the better.

However, Sanchez didn’t allow a run despite shaky command, a victory for the Nationals.

A.J. Pollock struck out to end the inning, a familiar sight. Pollock is 0 for 9 with seven strikeouts in the NLDS. He has company: Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers’ MVP frontrunner, is 0 for 7 with five strikeouts. Sanchez struck him out for the second out of the first inning.


Victor Robles sits with mild hamstring strain

Washington's Victor Robles runs after putting down a sacrifice bunt during the eighth inning of Game 2 of the NLDS on Friday.
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Victor Robles, the Nationals’ starting center fielder, did not start after an MRI examination revealed what Martinez called a “very, very mild” hamstring strain. Martinez said Robles could pinch-hit in “an emergency.”

The Nationals understandably are cautious about putting Robles on the injured list and replacing him on the roster. If they do so, they would lose Robles for the rest of this series and, if they advance, for the National League championship series.


Rain is in the forecast for Game 4 on Monday

Showers are forecast for Monday night, with skies expected to be clear Monday afternoon. However, Monday’s Game 4 still is scheduled to start at 6:40 p.m. in Washington, a league official said Sunday.

If Monday’s game is rained out, Game 4 then would be scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, on what is now an off day. Game 5, if necessary, would remain scheduled for Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.


Nationals have hit pause on their strategy to pitch Scherzer and Strasburg as much as possible

Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer walks to the dugout after the eighth inning in Game 2 of the NLDS.
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The Nationals’ strategy to pitch Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg as often as possible did not extend to Game 3.

After Scherzer pitched an inning of relief at Dodger Stadium on Friday, he met with Nationals manager Dave Martinez. Scherzer was the scheduled starter for Game 3, but he said an extra day of rest would allow him to throw more pitches in a Game 4 start.

“I don’t even know what the number is,” Scherzer said. “That’s kind of out the door.”

Scherzer said he did not envision a scenario where, if the Nationals were leading in Game 3, he would pitch an inning or two and the team could worry about Game 4 later.

“No,” Scherzer said, “unless Davey got crazy.”

Patrick Corbin, the Nationals’ Game 1 starter, is not in line to start again in the series and could appear in relief, as Strasburg did in the wild-card game and Scherzer did in Game 2.


Rich Hill will start Game 4 no matter the outcome of tonight’s game

If the Dodgers fall to the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of their National League Division Series, Rich Hill will remain the starter for the elimination game on Monday, manager Dave Roberts said.

“Rich is going to start tomorrow,” Roberts said.

In theory, Game 1 starter Walker Buehler could come back on three-days’ rest to pitch in Game 4 and Game 2 starter Clayton Kershaw could pitch Game 5 on regular rest.

“How we kind of manage tomorrow, obviously, is kind of dictated on today, but the plan is to have Rich start tomorrow,” Roberts said.


Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu talks about how life has changed in Los Angeles

Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu talks about the team’s recent success in the postseason.


Fan shows off his Nationals-Expos tribute jersey before Game 3

The first person in line at the third-base gate Sunday wore an artifact of franchise history. The Nationals moved here in 2005, but this franchise was called the Montreal Expos for its first 36 years.

Lyle Green wore a two-team tribute jersey. He had bought an Expos jersey, then stitched the Nationals’ curly W logo on it, opposite the Montreal logo. Green also wore an Expos cap that commemorated the 1982 All-Star game, the only one ever played in Montreal. The three Expos in the starting lineup for the National League that day — Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Tim Raines — all have been elected to the Hall of Fame.

The Nationals wore Expos throwback jerseys on July 6, for the first time since setting relocating to Washington, in honor of the franchise’s 50-year anniversary. The Nationals display the names of Carter, Dawson and Raines along a Nationals Park ring of honor — along with stars from the Nationals, Washington Senators and the Negro League’s Washington Homestead Grays — but retired numbers in Montreal are not retired here. Dawson’s No. 10, for instance, is worn in Washington by catcher Yan Gomes.

Green, who lives in Maryland, said this was one of various jerseys he wears to Nationals games. He chose 42 as the number on the back of his jersey.

“Don’t have to worry about him getting traded,” Green said.

That number is retired throughout the major leagues, in honor of Jackie Robinson.


Nationals to start Anibal Sanchez in NLDS Game 3 against Dodgers, not Max Scherzer

Washington Nationals pitcher Anibal Sanchez delivers during a game against the Braves in May.
(Getty Images)

The Washington Nationals announced Sunday that Anibal Sanchez — not ace Max Scherzer — will start Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers and their starter, Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Scherzer pitched the eighth inning of the Nationals’ Game 2 victory on Friday night, striking out the side on 14 pitches. Manager Dave Martinez said after the game he’d evaluate Scherzer’s recovery before making a decision on a Game 3 starter. Scherzer presumably will start Game 4 on Monday. The best-of-five series is tied 1-1.

Sanchez, 35, is a 14-year veteran who was 11-8 with a 3.83 ERA during the regular season, his first with the Nationals. He faced the Dodgers twice, holding them to one run over seven innings in July while giving up three runs over 4 1/3 innings in May. In the July 26 start, Sanchez retired 20 in a row after giving up a run in the first inning.



Nationals’ Gerardo Parra starts stadium craze with ‘Baby Shark’ song

A fan wears a shark hat as Nationals outfielder Gerardo Parra comes up to bat during a game against the Indians on Sept. 29, 2019.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

The message from the clubhouse seemed so preposterous, so juvenile, and just plain nutty. The response back to the clubhouse consisted of one word, and a critical punctuation mark.


The date was June 19. The Washington Nationals were slogging through the season, with more losses than wins. Journeyman outfielder Gerardo Parra, who had landed here after the San Francisco Giants shoved him off their spring carousel of disposable outfielders, woke up that morning and decided he needed to change his walk-up music.

His three kids had commandeered his cell phone, and “Baby Shark” had been blaring through his home, and not just one time.

“Like, five times,” Parra said.



Dodgers could use Kenley Jansen in something other than traditional closer role

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen pitches against the Giants on Sept. 28.
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Through the first two games of this National League Division Series, the alarm bells haven’t sounded. The earth hasn’t shaken. The volcano hasn’t erupted.

In other words, Kenley Jansen hasn’t pitched.

When the time comes for Jansen to emerge from the Dodgers’ bullpen in the best-of-five series against the Washington Nationals, who knows what will happen. The Dodgers certainly don’t.

The last time Jansen pitched was Sept. 28. If he pitches Sunday in Game 3 at Nationals Park, he’ll be making his first appearance in eight days.