Dodgers rally late to beat Nationals; now face the Cubs for a spot in the World Series

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Dodgers rally late to beat Nationals; now face the Cubs for a spot in the World Series

 The Dodgers celebrate their victory over the Nationals. They will now face the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS for a spot in the World Series.

The Dodgers celebrate their victory over the Nationals. They will now face the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS for a spot in the World Series.

Photo courtesy of Dodgers.com.

The Dodgers celebrate their victory over the Nationals. They will now face the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS for a spot in the World Series.

Photo courtesy of Dodgers.com.

Photo courtesy of Dodgers.com.

The Dodgers celebrate their victory over the Nationals. They will now face the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS for a spot in the World Series.

Ramon Alvarado, Staff Writer

The Dodgers and Nationals fought for a spot in the NLCS Thursday night at Nationals Park in Washington. The game got off to a slow start but picked up in the seventh inning. The end of the game provided plenty of action for those in attendance and those watching. After a late rally, the Dodgers were able to escape Washington with a 4-3 victory, earning themselves a spot in the NLCS where they will take on the Chicago Cubs.

Thursday night’s game in Washington got off to a very slow start. Maybe it was the pitching; maybe it was the nerves of a win-or-go-home game for both teams competing. One thing is for sure, the Dodgers and Nationals both struggled.

The Nationals’ Danny Espinosa was able to bring in Daniel Murphy on a single to right field in the second inning, but that was the only run scored by either team in the first six innings.

Trailing 1-0, the Dodgers came up to bat in the seventh inning. Leading off for them was the young and powerful Joc Pederson. He faced a pitcher in Max Scherzer that had played great up to that point. Scherzer had kept the damage done by the Dodgers to a minimum, but one pitch changed all of that.

Pederson was able to get a hold of the very first pitch thrown by Scherzer in the inning, and he absolutely crushed it. The ball was smacked to left field and reached the Nationals’ crowd for a solo home run. The Pederson long ball tied the game up at one, but the Dodgers were not done there.

After getting another couple of players on base, Carlos Ruiz came up to bat and came through with a clutch hit. Ruiz was able to bring in Austin Barnes, giving the Boys in Blue a 2-1 lead.

With two men on base again, Justin Turner came up to bat. He provided another clutch hit for the Dodgers; this time, though, it brought in more than one batter. Turner got great contact on the ball and was able to hit it all the way to center field. The ball bounced off the wall, brought in two runners, and Turner ended up with a two-RBI triple. Turner’s triple pushed the Dodgers’ lead up to 4-1.

In the bottom of the seventh, however, the Nationals answered back with a couple runs of their own. The Nationals’ Chris Heisey came up to pinch hit and done his job as well as you can. With Espinosa on base again, Heisey saw a pitch he liked from Dodgers’ relief pitcher, Grant Dayton, and launched it out to left field. The two-run home run from Heisey cut the Dodgers lead down to just one.

To stop the Nationals from regaining the league, the Dodgers brought in their usual closer, Kenley Jansen. Jansen was able to get out of the seventh and eighth innings without allowing a run. In the bottom of the ninth inning, though, Jansen gave up a hit and walked a batter, putting the winning run on first base with only one out. With a one-point lead and their season on the line, the Dodgers turned to their ace, Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw, who had just thrown 110 pitches in the previous game, was able to pop out the very first hitter he saw. Now with one out, a runner on first and second, and the game on the line, Kershaw faced Wilmer Difo. With the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Kershaw threw a nasty curveball to strikeout Difo and win the game for the Dodgers, 4-3.

The victory earned the Dodgers a spot in the National League Championship Series, where they will take on the best team in the league during the regular season, the Chicago Cubs. The series between Los Angeles and Chicago will put a ton of young talent on display and it’ll be intriguing to see if the Dodgers can do what they did the last time they faced the Cubs in the regular season.

The Dodgers played a three-game series against the Cubs late in August. The Boys in Blue won two of the three games, but only by one run each in very low scoring games. If the Dodgers can limit the runs scored by the Cubs once again, they will put themselves in great position to move on to the World Series. Limiting the Cubs’ runs will be a very tough task, though. The Dodgers are definitely going to have to earn their spot in the World Series.

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