The Los Angeles Dodgers were unable to capitalize on their first opportunity to close out their National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals Monday evening in Washington, losing 6-1, with Ryan Zimmerman’s three-run homer in the fifth inning breaking open a one-run game.
The Dodgers were limited to five hits by right-hander Max Scherzer and two relievers and held scoreless after Justin Turner’s first-inning home run.
The Nationals broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the fifth, including Zimmerman’s two-out, homer off Pedro Baez, the fourth of six Dodger pitchers.
Zimmerman was the first batter Baez faced in relief of Julio Urias.
“I just felt that Pedro was a better matchup considering where he was at as far as freshness,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Urias entered the game in the fifth and allowed singles to three of the five batters he faced, with Anthony Rendon singling in Trea Turner with the go-ahead run. Urias was charged with the loss.
The decisive fifth game of the best-of-five series will be played Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.
Scherzer allowed one run and four hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walking three for the victory.
“He just sort of wills his way to getting outs,” Roberts said. “In that first inning we put up a run and with the homer and from that point on he minimizes damage, he punches a lot of guys, and I just can’t see anybody better.”
Dodger starter Rich Hill was replaced by Kenta Maeda with two outs in the third inning, the score tied 1-1 and the bases loaded.
“The depth of the curveball, it just wasn’t quite there,” Roberts said. “I think that the curveball was up all night and the finish wasn’t quite there.”
Maeda retired Howie Kendrick on a ground ball to end the inning.
The 39-year-old Hill allowed one run and two hits in 2 2/3 innings, walked four and struck out two in his fourth appearance since June 20. Hill was placed on the injured list June 20 because of a left forearm strain, one day after leaving a start against the San Francisco Giants after one inning.
Hill returned to the mound Sept. 12, but left the interleague game against the Baltimore Orioles after two-thirds of an inning because of a knee injury. He next pitched Sept. 24, pitching two hitless innings against the San Diego Padres. He pitched three shutout innings against the Giants Sept. 29.
Maeda allowed an infield hit to Michael A. Taylor in the fourth and was pinch-hit for in the fifth and replaced by Urias.
“To get him to go one plus again tonight, loved him right there,” Roberts said.
Maeda has pitched in three of the four games of the series, allowing only the infield hit.
Sean Doolittle relieved Scherzer and retired all four batters he faced. Daniel Hudson allowed a single to the first batter he faced, David Freese, then struck out Gavin Lux and induced Will Smith to fly out to right fielder Adam Eaton to end the game.
Rendon’s third-inning sacrifice fly drove in Michael A. Taylor, who walked, with Washington’s first run. Rendon’s sixth-inning sacrifice fly drove in Trea Turner, who hit a ground-rule double, with the Nationals final run.
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