Giants

Nats score four in ninth, take 2-1 lead over Dodgers in NLDS

Nats score four in ninth, take 2-1 lead over Dodgers in NLDS

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES -- Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth homered, and the Washington Nationals moved within one victory of winning a postseason series for the first time, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 Monday for a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five NL playoff.

Four relievers combined for 4 2/3 shutout innings, putting the Nationals in position to wrap up the NL Division Series on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.

Playing 23 hours after the Nationals tied the series at home in a rain-postponed Game 2, Rendon hit a two-run homer in a four-run third that chased Kenta Maeda. Werth added a solo shot off closer Kenley Jansen in a breakaway four-run ninth.

NL East champions for the third time in five years, the Nationals were unable to advance during their two previous trips to the postseason. They lost in the Division Series to St. Louis in 2012 and San Francisco in 2014.

The franchise has won one playoff series - the Montreal Expos beat Philadelphia following the strike-shortened 1981 season before losing to the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series.

The team moved from Montreal to Washington before the 2005 season.

The Dodgers again struggled against left-handed pitching, a problem throughout the season when they had a major league-worst .213 average against lefties.

Four Washington lefty relievers stymied the Dodgers in the first two games. Facing lefty starter Gio Gonzalez in Game 3, they got three runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings.

The only Dodgers hitter with proven success against Gonzalez was catcher Carlos Ruiz, and he came through with a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the fifth that cut their deficit to 4-3.

After that, the Dodgers mustered just a pair of singles off a Nats' bullpen that included lefties Sammy Solis and Oliver Perez, and didn't advance a runner past first base. Solis wound up with the win.

It was still 4-3 when Werth homered on a 1-0 pitch from Jansen leading off the ninth. Ryan Zimmerman added a two-run double that bounced off right fielder Josh Reddick's glove at the wall - the hit scored Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper, who both walked.

Jansen, the team's all-time saves leader, was yanked. Los Angeles used all seven of its relievers in the game.

Maeda gave up four runs and five hits in three innings, struck out four and walked two in his first career start against Washington. The Japanese right-hander who won a team-leading 16 games is one of seven rookies on the Dodgers' NLDS roster.

Maeda found trouble right away against the Nats. He loaded the bases in a 28-pitch first inning on consecutive two-out walks. After a mound visit from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Maeda threw three strikes in a row to retire Zimmerman and get out of trouble.

Dodgers rookie Corey Seager continued his first-inning success in the series, hitting an RBI double off the wall for a 1-0 lead after homering in the first inning of Games 1 and 2.

Maeda retired the side in the second, striking out two, before wilting in the third. He opened the inning by giving up four hits in five batters.

Werth's RBI double in the right-field corner tied the game 1-all. Harper hit an RBI single and Rendon followed with his two-run shot to the left-field pavilion for a 4-1 lead.

COOLING DOWN

Murphy went 0 for 4 with a strikeout and a walk after going 4 for 6 in the first two games. Last year's NLCS MVP came in hitting .408 with three homers and five RBIs in seven postseason games against the Dodgers.

NIGHTMARE IN THE DAYTIME

The Dodgers were 28-16 in day games during the regular season, tops in the majors. They averaged over half a run more during day games than at night. Game 4 on Tuesday is another daytime start.

HIT `EM HERE

Nationals SS Danny Espinosa got hit by a pitch from Maeda in the third inning, the third time he's been hit, which is the most in NLDS history. He trails Shane Victorino, who was hit four times in the 2013 ALDS against Boston for most in a division series in major league history.

DUSTY NOT DIRTY

Nationals manager Dusty Baker got his nickname as a kid playing football in his backyard, which was covered in green grass except for one spot.

"It always seems that I ended up in the dirt spot and always got dirty," he said. "But my mother didn't want to call me Dirty so she called me Dusty. It stuck and all of my friends called me Dusty since I was a kid. The only people who called me Johnnie were my teachers. If somebody calls me Johnnie B., it kind of gets my attention. If they call me Dusty, I just wave."

CHAMPIONSHIP BATTERY

1988 World Series MVP Orel Hershiser tossed out the ceremonial first pitch to Steve Sax, his teammate during that championship season. The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since then.

UP NEXT

Dodgers rookie Julio Urias (5-2, 3.39 ERA) is scheduled to start Game 4, but the Dodgers could bring back Game 1 winner Clayton Kershaw on short rest with their season on the line. Urias made two starts against the Nationals this season. He allowed two runs and six hits in five innings of a no-decision at home on June 22. The left-hander allowed one run in four innings on July 21 at Washington. The Dodgers won both games.

The Nationals have yet to announce their starter. It's possible RHP Joe Ross would start Game 4 and Game 1 loser Max Scherzer would take the mound if Game 5 is necessary.

Bruce Bochy, Ned Yost reflect on touching moment after 2014 World Series

Bruce Bochy, Ned Yost reflect on touching moment after 2014 World Series

SAN FRANCISCO -- A few minutes after his team lost the 2014 World Series in a heartbreaking way, Royals manager Ned Yost walked over to the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium and quietly slipped into Bruce Bochy’s office. With champagne still flying through the air and players getting deep into their celebrations, Yost and Bochy shook hands and had a brief conversation.  

The show of class and sportsmanship meant a lot to the winning side. That moment meant even more to Yost. 

“I’ve still got that picture hanging in my office,” he said recently. “I don’t have many pictures that I put up, but there’s that one of me and him shaking hands afterward. That one is special to me. It was a hard time because he was trying to celebrate, but I just wanted to tell him congratulations.”

Yost’s Royals will face Bochy’s Giants today in Cactus League action, and it will almost certainly be the final matchup between their teams. Bochy has announced his intention to retire, and neither team is favored to reach the postseason.

That 2014 matchup was a memorable one, though, and it still leaves Yost shaking his head. A day after Bochy announced that 2019 would be his last season, Yost, at an MLB event, recalled thinking he had gotten the better of Bochy. 

“I just remember him sending Bumgarner out in Game 7 and I just thought, ‘Okay, we’re going to kill him.’ And it just didn’t turn out that way,” Yost said. “Even to send Bumgarner out there in the ninth, it was like, ‘whoa,’ but it worked out perfectly.”

Yost and the Royals would win the next year, getting their own moment in the sun. But on that cold October night in Kansas City, Yost watched Bumgarner get out of a jam in the ninth. He watched Bochy celebrate, and then he went over to congratulate a manager he says is a surefire Hall of Famer. 

[RELATED: Bochy announces he will retire after 2019 season]

“I just have the ultimate respect for him. I’ve always admired him, his longevity, and what he has been able to do,” Yost said. “The one solace I can find, as tough as it was to lose a World Series, especially when you’re 90 feet away, is just that I lost it to my boyhood team and to a manager who I probably have more respect for than any other present manager in the game. 

“He’s right behind Bobby Cox for me. He’s accomplished everything that every manager looks to accomplish.”

Bryce Harper reveals he was choosing between Giants and Phillies

Bryce Harper reveals he was choosing between Giants and Phillies

I was the ring leader of the "Bring Bryce Harper to the Giants" circus during the offseason. I even wrote an embarrassing letter to try and convince him to wear Orange and Black.

I should have had it notarized.

Anyways, we've moved on -- I'm still working through some feelings, but he is now a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. But Harper recently opened up about the final days before he made his decision. And it turns out, the Giants were on his mind more than we realized. 

“I had just met with Larry and Farhan about two days before,” Harper told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal in an interview with FS1. “The Dodgers came in right after them. They were saying, ‘We can go four years,’ that kind of thing. I was like, ‘That’s probably not going to work for me. I want long-term.’ I was very appreciative of the money, but I wanted long-term.

“The next day was Thursday. Scott (Boras) called me at like 9 a.m. I was still sleeping, still laying in bed. He says, ‘Hey, we have an offer from the Phillies. Here’s what they’re willing to do.’ I said, ‘Hey, have you heard back from San Fran?’ He said he hadn’t heard back from them yet. I said, ‘OK, once you hear back from San Fran, let me know.’"

That's when Harper and his wife, Kayla, talked it out a bit. For them, it was about finding a place that was best for their family and where they would be "cared about as individuals and not just Bryce the baseball player."

Understandable. 

“We sat there and talked for a little bit. And I remember standing there, me hugging her and saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to Philly.’ That was before we even heard from San Fran," Harper said. "San Fran called back, offered whatever it was. By that point, it was kind of like, ‘I’m already a Philadelphia Phillie.’ In my heart, I was already a Philadelphia Phillie. It was nothing against San Francisco. They’re a great organization. It’s a great city. It just came down to what I felt. And by that point, it was Philly.”

[RELATED: Bruce Bochy comments on pursuit of Harper]

The Giants offered Harper a 12-year, $310 million contract, but it turns out he had made up his mind by then.

What could have been.