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The Sports Report: Dodgers win Game 1

NLDS Nationals Dodgers Baseball
Gavin Lux hits a solo home run in the eighth inning.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

DODGERS

The Dodgers, led by Walker Buehler, shut down the Washington Nationals in Game 1 of the best-of-five NLDS on Thursday with a 6-0 victory.

The right-hander held the Nationals to one hit. He compiled eight strikeouts to three walks and threw 100 pitches, extending his postseason scoreless streak to 16 2/3 innings, before passing the baton to the Dodgers’ overhauled bullpen. Adam Kolarek, Kenta Maeda and Joe Kelly limited the Nationals to one hit over the final three innings.

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“If you know Walker, it’s not surprising,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “He’s very, very, very, very, very confident in himself. He loves it. He thrives in these situations, and you saw it again tonight.”

Corbin, meanwhile, gave up a run in the first inning on four walks to sink the Nationals into a hole in his first career playoff start. He rebounded to keep the Dodgers off the board until first baseman Howie Kendrick’s second error, on a 96-mph ground ball off Max Muncy’s bat, allowed the Dodgers’ second run to score in the fifth inning. Corbin surrendered the two runs and three hits, striking out nine and walking five.

His departure after 107 pitches afforded the Dodgers an opportunity to exploit the Nationals’ underbelly — middle relief — and they did not squander it. With the bases loaded in the seventh inning, Muncy smacked a two-out, two-run single off 42-year-old Fernando Rodney to give the Dodgers a 4-0 cushion and their first hit with runners in scoring position in seven tries.

“I just think that the at-bat quality he’s done all year has been unbelievable,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He just keeps having good at-bats.”

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Gavin Lux widened the margin in the eighth inning with a home run off right-hander Hunter Strickland in his first career postseason plate appearance, becoming the youngest player in franchise history — at 21 years and 314 days old — to homer in the postseason. Joc Pederson added a blast off the right-field foul pole screen later in the inning to cement the win.

Read all our coverage and sign up for our Dodgers newsletter for even more analysis:

Brash Walker Buehler sets tone for Dodgers, who begin playoffs with decisive win

Inning-by-inning recap of Game 1

Bill Plaschke: Nationals look overwhelmed in playoff opener against Dodgers

Dylan Hernandez: Dodgers’ bullpen dominates while Nationals’ relievers capitulate

Alex Verdugo likely sidelined for the entire postseason

Howie Kendrick’s errors and Patrick Corbin’s walks cost Nationals in loss

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Dodgers’ Adam Kolarek makes the most out of his long-awaited postseason debut

NLDS schedule

All times Pacific

Game 1: at Dodgers 6, Washington 0

Game 2: Tonight at Dodgers, 6:30 p.m., TBS, AM 570

Game 3: Sunday at Washington, 4:45 p.m., TBS, AM 570

Game 4*: Monday at Washington, 2:15 p.m. (if Atl-StL series is over) or 3:40 p.m. (if Atl-StL series is still going), TBS, AM 570

Game 5*: Wednesday at Dodgers, 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m., TBS, AM 570

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*-if necessary.

St. Louis-Atlanta NLDS schedule

All times Pacific

Game 1: St. Louis 7, at Atlanta 6 (Read game story here)

Game 2: Tonight at Atlanta, 1:30 p.m., TBS

Game 3: Sunday at St. Louis, 1 p.m., TBS

Game 4*: Monday at St. Louis, TBA, TBS

Game 5*: Wednesday at Atlanta, TBA, TBS

*-if necessary

RAMS

Greg Zuerlein missed a 44-yard field-goal attempt with 11 seconds to go as the Rams lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 30-29, on Thursday in Seattle.

The loss came only four days after the Rams lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 55-40, at the Coliseum.

All of a sudden, a Rams team regarded as a contender to return to the Super Bowl looks as if it could possibly be caught in a malaise that has struck countless teams the season after they lost in the Super Bowl.

It’s still early of course. There is plenty of time for the Rams to bounce back and make another run.

Next week the Rams play the San Francisco 49ers, who are 3-0 going into their home game Monday against the Cleveland Browns. Rams coach Sean McVay and his players did not sound too concerned.

“There a lot of things to look forward to,” McVay said. “Is it disappointing? Absolutely.

“But it’s not something that’s going to be debilitating and going to prohibit our ability to move forward as a team.”

Quarterback Jared Goff pointed out that the New England Patriots — losers of the Super Bowl at the end of the 2017 season — started last season 3-2 before making a run to the Super Bowl, where they defeated the Rams.

“We’re still 3-2, we’re in a good spot,” said Goff, who passed for 395 yards and a touchdown, with an interception. “We’ve been the right side of [close games] more times than not in the last couple years.”

Running back Todd Gurley is not worried.

“Were fine,” said Gurley, who rushed for 51 yards and two touchdowns in 15 carries. “We had two losses at the end of the season last year still made the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how you start. No one remembers who was 4-0, 8-0. It’s about making it to January.”

Read more Rams

Seahawks’ Russell Wilson throws Rams for a loss with four-TD performance

Greg Zuerlein blames poor swing on missed field-goal attempt

Sam Farmer: Loss to Seahawks reminds Rams NFC West competition is going to be challenging

RAMS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: 710 ESPN, 93.1 JACK FM

Rams 30, at Carolina 27

at Rams 27, New Orleans 9

Rams 20, at Cleveland 13

Tampa Bay 55, at Rams 40

at Seattle 30, Rams 29

Oct. 13 vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m., Fox

Oct. 20 at Atlanta, 10 a.m., Fox

Oct. 27 vs. Cincinnati, 10 a.m., CBS (in London, counts as home game for Rams)

Nov. 10 at Pittsburgh, 1:15 p.m., Fox

Nov. 17 vs. Chicago, 5:15 p.m., NBC

Nov. 25 vs. Baltimore, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Dec. 1 at Arizona, 1 p.m., Fox

Dec. 8 vs. Seattle, 5:15 p.m., NBC

Dec. 15 at Dallas, 1:15 p.m., Fox

Dec. 22 or 23 at San Francisco, TBD

Dec. 29 vs. Arizona, 1:15 p.m., Fox

CLIPPERS

Hours before the Clippers opened their preseason schedule against the Houston Rockets at Honolulu’s Stan Sheriff Center, team owner Steve Ballmer said he will gauge the success of the upcoming season by the postseason success that has eluded the franchise for so long.

“We’re not at the top of the mountain,” Ballmer said. “… As [coach Doc Rivers] has reminded all of us many times, you don’t win any games as it turns out during the months of July, August, September. So whatever people say about you, you’re not winning any basketball games during those months. So as we get into October, we want to win a lot of games. But again, planning and working, the No. 1 goal is to win a lot of games in April, May and June.”

Ballmer also said that legal opposition, backed by New York Knicks owner James Dolan, will not deter his efforts to build the Clippers a new arena in Inglewood.

Dolan is chairman and chief executive of Madison Square Garden Co., which owns and operates an arena, the Forum, that sits less than a mile from the site of the proposed Clippers arena complex and has brought lawsuits seeking to block its construction.

“We’re on a path where we think we can build the arena, whatever happens in the litigation,” Ballmer said. “We’re moving along. Certainly, suffice it to say, I think the other side is just trying to slow us down a little bit. But it’s another thing where we’re grinders. We’re long-term players, and we’re grinders. You want to hit us in the nose? OK! We’ll keep moving. You can’t knock us down.

“I’m not sure they understand what they’ve gotten themselves into, from my perspective, in the sense that we’ll just keep going.”

He later added that the Clippers “are going to open that arena one way or another.”

SPARKS

The WNBA is investigating what took place in the Sparks’ locker room Sept. 19 after the team lost Game 2 of its WNBA semifinal series with the Connecticut Sun 94-68. The Sparks were eliminated by the second-seeded Sun three days later.

According to a report from ESPN, Sparks general manager Penny Toler entered the locker room after Game 2 and challenged the team in a speech that included obscenities, racial epithets and threats that players would be replaced.

“We’ll be looking into it as a league,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.” “We understand heat of the moment and that the Sparks lost in the semifinals, but we don’t condone that kind of language, and we’ll be reviewing it over the next couple of days.”

The Sparks declined to comment to the Los Angeles Times. ESPN reported that Toler, a former Sparks player, acknowledged using racial epithets but said they were not directed at any of the team’s players.

In a statement, Toler said, “No one is above criticism or feedback, and I am committed to ensuring my words consistently reflect the Sparks’ values of a productive and positive working environment moving forward. I will take this as a learning opportunity and grow from this and make sure that not only myself, but my staff, team and the entire organization is cognizant of the language we use in the locker room.”

DUCKS

Hockey season in the Southland officially began Thursday as Derek Grant and Cam Fowler scored to back John Gibson‘s 32 saves in the Ducks’ 2-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.

“This is a group that I feel can do good things that people might not necessarily see at the moment,” captain Ryan Getzlaf said before the game. “But we’re going to have to keep our head down and focus on what we need to do and make sure that we play with energy and up-tempo hockey.”

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Washington at Dodgers, 6:30 p.m., TBS, AM 570

BORN ON THIS DATE

1934: NFL player Sam Huff

1944: Baseball manager Tony La Russa

1963: Former Laker A.C. Green

1964: Former Angel Mark McLemore

1980: Race car driver Sarah Fisher

1982: Former Angel Jered Weaver

1988: NBA player Derrick Rose

1989: Figure skater Kimmie Meissner

DIED ON THIS DATE

1975: Tennis player May Sutton, 89

1989: Race horse Secretariat, 19

AND FINALLY

Dodgers-Nationals Game 1 highlights. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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