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Washington Nationals stay in the fight, beat Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-1, to force Game 5

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Washington’s Nationals, led by Max Scherzer and Ryan Zimmerman, beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 in Game 4 of the NLDS to earn a trip back to LA for Game 5.

Divisional Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals - Game Four Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Ryan Zimmerman’s not dead yet. And neither are the Nationals. With their backs against the wall in a win-or-go-home Game 4 of their NLDS matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Washington Nationals tied the series up at 2-2 with a 6-1 win in the nation’s capital.

Max Scherzer gave up a run on three hits over seven innings, and he got plenty of support from Anthony Rendon (two sac flies and an RBI single) and Ryan Zimmerman (on a 2-out, 3-run HR in a 4-run fifth). Game 5 is in LA on Wednesday night. #STAYINTHEFIGHTANDSTUFF

Scherzer vs the Dodgers: Asked yesterday about the fact that his velocity has ticked up in his two postseason appearances from what it was in the regular season, Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer attributed it to adrenaline and said the atmosphere in October had an effect.

“I’ve had some fun with the other guys in the clubhouse,” Scherzer said.

“‘The old guy, can still throw hard.’ But for me it’s just a mentality of just going out there with everything on the line. The atmospheres I’ve pitched in, here with the Wild Card game and then there on the road in Dodger Stadium, I mean it’s been intense. So you’re going to get the best out of me. And there’s no regular season environment that I can replicate that.”

The Nationals’ ace came out with the season on the line tonight and gave up a home run early, with Justin Turner, who started the night 5 for 14 with two doubles and a home run through the first three games, taking him deep on a 96 MPH 0-1 fastball that cleared the fence in left field, 1-0 LA.

Scherzer held the Dodgers there through three innings, and came out for the fourth with the score tied at 1-1, and worked around a leadoff single by Cody Bellinger, striking Gavin Lux out on a 97 MPH fastball up high to keep it tied.

Scherzer struck out the side in a dominant 17-pitch fifth, picking up Ks Nos. 4-6 from the first 17 batters faced, and completing the inning at 70 pitches total on the night.

It was 5-1 Nationals when Scherzer came back out for the top of the sixth, after a long, four-run bottom of the fifth inning, and he retired the side in order in a 12-pitch frame which left him at 82 pitches total on the night.

Scherzer came back out for the seventh with a 6-1 lead, and gave up a one-out single by Matt Beaty and back-to-back walks to Gavin Lux and Will Smith, loading the bases up for pinch hitter Chris Taylor, who worked the count full and went down swinging through a slider for out No. 2. Joc Pederson stepped in next, and after hitting a liner to right that hit the grass just outside the line for a foul ball, grounded out to second to end the threat.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 109 P, 72 S, 4/6 GO/FO.

Hill vs the Nationals: Rich Hill went five innings against the Nationals back in May in Los Angeles giving up five hits, two walks, and three earned runs in a 6-0 loss, but when the Dodgers visited D.C. in July, the veteran lefty was on the Injured List, for a second stint of the season, after missing time early with a forearm strain.

He tweaked his knee in September too, missing two weeks before he returned to make two appearances down the stretch.

How did Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts determine that Hill would be good to go tonight?

“His last start against San Francisco, it looked good,” Roberts explained before the start of Game 4 of the NLDS.

“Came out of it well,” he added, “the side session after that, trainers, Rich, his own words, his confidence level, my eyes seeing how it looks.

“All that gave us the confidence that he deserves to make this start and we feel good about whatever length he can give us.”

Hill tossed two scoreless innings to start, on 28 pitches, as the Dodgers jumped out to a 1-0 lead, but a leadoff walk to Michael A. Taylor in the third, and a one-out single to center field by Trea Turner put runners on the corners with one out, and Adam Eaton walked to load’em up in front of Anthony Rendon, who hit a 1-2 curve out to the warning track in left field for a game-tying sac fly, 1-1.

Juan Soto’s two-out walk in the next at bat, on Hill’s 30th pitch of the inning, and 58th pitch of the game, loaded the bases back up and ended the lefty’s outing...

Rich Hill’s Line: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 Ks, 58 P, 32 S, 1/2 GO/FO.

No Sleep Till The Offseason: Davey Martinez talks often about how he doesn’t sleep all that much during the season, which probably has something to do with the health issues he had this season, but it’s not going to change until the Nationals are done in 2019.

Last night’s loss had him up late as well, but he woke up feeling good.

“So last night I stayed up until about 2:45” he said this afternoon. “And I just, I was watching [Patrick] Corbin pitching, wanted to make sure he wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary per se.

“But I woke up today relatively calm. I went to Ted’s Bulletin, had some good breakfast, had a half a pop-tart, a homemade pop-tart, so I’m ready to go, yeah.

“Hey, I tell the guys, ‘Hey, let’s go 1-0 today.’ The biggest thing for me is just, hey, ‘Stay in the moment. Stay in the here and now and stay in the moment and let’s focus on what’s going on today.’”

BULLPEN ACTION: Kenta Maeda took over for Rich Hill with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the third. Howie Kendrick stepped in against the right-hander, and hit one out to third to end the threat, 1-1 in D.C.

Maeda came back out in the bottom of the fourth, and worked around a two-out infield hit by Michael A. Taylor for a scoreless frame.

Julio Urías came on for LA in the bottom of the fifth, and gave up a leadoff single by Trea Turner, who lined a 3-1 fastball to left. Adam Eaton bunted Turner over/gave up an out, to get Anthony Rendon up with a runner in scoring position, and Rendon lined a 1-0 fastball out to center field for an RBI single and a 2-1 lead.

Howie Kendrick lined a two-out single to left-center off Urías, sending Rendon around to third, and ending the left-hander’s night.

Pedro Báez took over with two on and two out, and gave up a two-out, three-run home run to center field by Ryan Zimmerman, who crushed an 0-1 fastball, sending a bomb over the wall for a 5-1 lead. #TKCHZ.

Trea Turner tripled off Ross Stripling on a catchable liner to left that Cody Bellinger dove for but couldn’t grab, but upon review, it was ruled that the ball got stuck under the wall, so he had it reduced to a double, but took third anyway on a wild pitch, then scored on a second sac fly by Anthony Rendon, 6-1.

Dustin May gave up a one-out single by Ryan Zimmerman, but got an inning-ending 5-4-3 DP out of Kurt Suzuki to end the seventh. Still 6-1 Nationals.

Sean Doolittle came on for the Nationals in the top of the eighth and retired the side in order in a 13-pitch frame.

May returned to the mound for the bottom of the eighth and retired the side in order.

Doolittle stayed on to face Corey Seager, and popped him up to left for out No. 1. Daniel Hudson came on at that point, and gave up an infield single by pinch hitter David Freese, then struck Gavin Lux out for out No. 2, and got out No. 3 on a pop to right field by Will Smith to end it.

Ballgame.

Final Score: 6-1 Nationals

NLDS tied at 2-2. Game 5 on Wednesday night in LA.