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Los Angeles Dodgers edge Washington Nationals, send NLDS to Game 5

By Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
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Los Angeles Dodgers edge Washington Nationals, send NLDS to Game 5
Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley (26) singles for an RBI and the 6-5 lead over the Washington Nationals during the eighth inning of National League Division Series Game 4 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, October 11, 2016. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES -- The strategy was simple, Chase Utley said. Just get a base hit.

Utley's RBI single with two outs in the eighth inning lifted the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-5 victory over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, evening the National League Division Series at two games apiece.

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Utley singled off reliever Blake Treinen (1-1), allowing the Dodgers to avoid elimination and force a decisive Game 5 on Thursday at Nationals Park.

"Just try to put the ball in play, especially with two strikes and a man on second base," said Utley, who went 1-for-4. "At that point, the shadows had kind of disappeared. Middle of the game was kind of tough to see.

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"It was sneak one through the infield. Obviously, it was a big hit for us, but there were a lot of great at-bats for us today."

Adrian Gonzalez homered, and Joc Pederson drove in two runs for the Dodgers.

Daniel Murphy went 2-for-3 and had a franchise postseason-record four RBIs for the Nationals, who rallied from a three-run deficit to tie the score in the seventh before Utley drove home Andrew Toles for the game-winner.

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Dodgers reliever Joe Blanton (1-0) struck out two in a scoreless 1 1/3 innings for the win. Closer Kenley Jansen also fanned two in a perfect ninth for the save.

"Even when they scored three runs to tie it, there was no quit in us," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "Just guys having big at-bats."

Los Angeles held a 5-2 lead in the seventh when the Nationals loaded the bases with singles by Danny Espinosa and Trea Turner and a walk to Bryce Harper off Clayton Kershaw. Roberts replaced Kershaw with Pedro Baez, who promptly hit Jayson Werth with his first pitch, cutting the Dodgers' margin to two runs.

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Murphy followed with a two-run single off Luis Avilan to knot the score.

"He knows how to hit," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said of Murphy. "He comes through in the clutch. Man, that was a hard-fought game on both sides."

Kershaw, who worked on three days' rest, struck out 11 but was charged with a season-high-tying five runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He threw 110 pitches (76 strikes), the most he delivered since returning on Sept. 9 from a herniated disk in his back.

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Kershaw also doubled and walked in three plate appearances.

"I'm thankful that we pulled it out," said Kershaw, who recorded his fourth double-digit strikeout total in the playoffs. "I'm exhausted for one, just physically and mentally drained. But we get to live another day."

Washington starter Joe Ross, making his postseason debut, lasted just 2 2/3 innings, surrendering four runs on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Ross, who threw 55 pitches (30 strikes), also hit two batters.

The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the first on Murphy's RBI single with one out.

In the bottom of the inning, Gonzalez hit a two-run blast to right-center for a 2-1 Los Angeles edge. It was Gonzalez's first home run of the postseason and the sixth of his career, all with the Dodgers.

Murphy tied the score at 2 with a sacrifice fly in the third.

Los Angeles grabbed the lead again in the bottom of the third when Justin Turner's single scored Kershaw, who led off the inning with a double. Then, with the bases loaded, Ross hit Pederson on a full count to score Justin Turner for a 4-2 advantage.

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In the fifth, Pederson lined a double to left off reliever Reynaldo Lopez, scoring Josh Reddick to increase the margin to 5-2.

Trea Turner went 3-for-5 with three runs.

Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer (0-1, 6.00 ERA) will get the nod for Game 5. The Dodgers will counter with left-hander Rich Hill (0-1, 8.31), who lost Game 2 and will be pitching on three days' rest.

"This is going to be a heck of a ballgame," Scherzer said. "The effort from both sides over the first four games has been incredible. We've seen unbelievable baseball from both sides."

NOTES: Nationals LF Jayson Werth ranks fifth among active players with 15 career postseason home runs. Werth, a former Dodger, is tied with Babe Ruth for 11th all time. The home run Werth hit in Game 3 against the Dodgers was his fourth against them in the playoffs. ... Thanks to the bullpen allowing three inherited runners to score Tuesday, Los Angeles LHP Clayton Kershaw saw his career postseason ERA rise to 4.83. He has a 3-6 record in playoff games. ... A crowd of 49,617 attended.

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