Utley delivers, Dodgers beat Nationals to force decisive Game 5


Utley delivers, Dodgers beat Nationals to force decisive Game 5


LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw left with a lead in the seventh inning and the bases loaded. After the bullpen faltered, veterans Chase Utley and Andre Ethier rescued the Dodgers.

Utley singled home the tiebreaking run with two outs in the eighth, and Los Angeles avoided elimination Tuesday with a 6-5 victory over the Washington Nationals that forced a deciding Game 5 in their NL playoff.

Kenley Jansen worked the ninth for a save, one day after giving up four late runs during Los Angeles' loss in Game 3.

"I got out there and focused and fought," he said.

Game 5 is Thursday in Washington, with 20-game winner Max Scherzer set to pitch for the Nationals.

"Man, 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. Great pitching, great hitting, defense, everything."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he will use left-hander Rich Hill and rookie Julio Urias, but did not announce which one will start.

"If anyone gives up on this team, they haven't seen us play a whole lot this year," Roberts said, "and it starts with what Clayton did - short rest and leaving it all out there. Everyone fed off that."

After failing to close out the Dodgers on the road, Washington will get one more chance Thursday to win a playoff series for the first time since the franchise relocated from Montreal. NL East champions in three of the past five years, the Nationals were unable to advance during their two previous trips to the postseason.

"That's why we fought so hard for the home-field advantage," manager Dusty Baker said. "This year, it's coming to fruition."

Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer for the Dodgers, who turned to Kershaw on three days' rest to salvage their season.

The score was tied 5-all with two outs in the eighth when Andrew Toles got hit by a pitch from loser Blake Treinen. Ethier followed with a single to left and Utley singled to right, scoring Toles from second for a 6-5 lead.

Trailing 5-2 in the seventh, the Nats had runners on first and second against Kershaw with two outs. The crowd chanted Kershaw's name as he and Bryce Harper battled through eight pitches before Harper drew a walk.

"Man, that's what baseball is all about right there: a matter of will," Baker said. "Kershaw was on empty. We knew it. They knew it. Everybody knew it."

Harper's walk loaded the bases and chased Kershaw, who walked off with his head down. He sat alone in the dugout with his head resting on his right hand.

"Kershaw was outstanding," Baker said. "That's one of the best performances I've seen, especially on three days' rest."

But the Dodgers' bullpen nearly gave the game away.

Pedro Baez came in and hit Jayson Werth with his only pitch, forcing in a run to make it 5-3. Baez got booed off the field.

Daniel Murphy's single off Luis Avilan dropped between Toles and Joc Pederson in left-center field, scoring two runs to tie it at 5. Avilan also heard boos.

Joe Blanton, who earned the win, retired Anthony Rendon on a swinging strikeout to end the inning.

"Our bullpen has been unbelievable," Kershaw said. "Joe did what Joe's been doing all season. He's been through a lot in his career but he came in and shut them down."

Desperate to avoid another early playoff exit, the Dodgers went with Kershaw, their three-time Cy Young Award winner who won Game 1 last Friday despite going just five innings and allowing three runs.

This time, he was charged with five runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out 11 - equaling his second-best postseason total - and walked two.

The left-hander was limited to 149 innings while compiling a 1.69 ERA during the regular season. He missed 2 1/2 months with a mildly herniated disk in his back.

Kershaw opened the game by giving up a leadoff single and a walk before Murphy's RBI single.

The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning on Gonzalez's two-run shot that scored Justin Turner, who was hit by a pitch from Joe Ross.

Werth's RBI single tied it 2-all in the third.

Los Angeles again answered in the bottom of the inning, with Kershaw getting the rally going with a double to left field. He slid into second and clenched his fists in a rare show of emotion.

Kershaw scored on Turner's single with two outs. Pederson got hit by a pitch from Ross with the bases loaded, forcing in Turner

Ross made his postseason debut for the Nationals, giving up four runs and three hits in 2 2/3 innings, equaling the shortest playoff start in the history of the Montreal-Washington franchise. The 23-year-old right-hander struck out three and walked two. He hasn't pitched more than four innings since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 18.

Five players were hit by pitches, including four Dodgers, which set a single-game franchise playoff record. Of the quartet, two ended up scoring. Werth was the lone Nationals player to get hit.

There have been 11 hit batters in the series, a postseason record.

"No one on either side is trying to hit anybody with everything on the line right now," Scherzer said. "That's just baseball being played at its highest."

Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg experienced discomfort in his right elbow during a bullpen session Monday at Dodger Stadium. He threw 30 or 31 pitches instead of the scheduled 35. Strasburg has been out since tearing the pronator tendon in his elbow on Sept. 7.

Baker said Strasburg was throwing the ball "very good" and he's not concerned about the pitcher's progress. Strasburg has said he would try to return this season if the Nationals advance to the NLCS.

Kershaw started a game on three days' rest for the fourth consecutive postseason.

Baker has lost eight consecutive postseason games when his team would have advanced with a victory. That's the longest such streak in major league history, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

The Dodgers improved to 12-15 in postseason elimination games since moving to Los Angeles.

Hank Greenwald made sure Giants' Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow studied hard


Hank Greenwald made sure Giants' Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow studied hard

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Mike Krukow moved on from his playing days and started doing radio work with Hank Greenwald in 1991, he found that he still felt he was being coached during games. 

"He would make corrections between innings like coaches make corrections to players that make a mental mistake on the field," Krukow said of Greenwald. "They would address it immediately, for the simple fact that he may do that same mistake again the same game. They want to end it right there, and Hank was the same way. I was in awe of how meticulous he would be to prepare for a game." 

Duane Kuiper remembers the same trait. The first lesson Greenwald taught him was to come prepared. 

"He used to make sure that you did your homework," Kuiper said. "I had a notebook, a folder, and I had 10 blank pieces of paper in it just to make it look like I was studying it really hard. If he would have ever opened it up it would have been a really big shock to him. He studied hard and he wanted the person he was working with to do the same thing."

The Giants announced Tuesday morning that Greenwald, a longtime broadcaster in the Bay Area, died at the age of 83 after a long battle with heart and kidney complications. Krukow, appearing on The Happy Hour on NBC Sports Bay Area, remembered Greenwald as a tireless worker who was always compiling newspaper clips and facts from books that he could use on a broadcast, and a man with an amazing wit. Even during Krukow's playing days, he was close with Greenwald. 

"He was just a storyteller, a great storyteller," Krukow said. "It was a uniqueness about his personality that we all enjoyed because he was such a historian with the game of baseball. He would hold us spellbound with the history of, not only the Giants, but of other teams we were about to play. 

"That's how we got to know Hank. When you could tell a story, he enjoyed that. He was the guy that laughed the loudest." 

Greenwald spent 16 years as the play-by-play voice of the Giants on KNBR, retiring in 1996. He helped both current Giants broadcasters break in. 

"It was a little intimidating for a former player to do play-by-play and Hank Greenwald is sitting next to you," Kuiper said. "But you try to use that to your advantage and learn from him."

Krukow recalled Greenwald making an impression the moment you walked into his booth. He recalled that Greenwald wore a coat and tie to the radio booth every single day. 

"You knew walking into Hank's booth that he was in charge," Krukow said. "He was the guy, he was the captain."

Hank Greenwald, former Giants broadcaster, dies at 83

Hank Greenwald, former Giants broadcaster, dies at 83

Every place with a team has a special link to its broadcasters, because broadcasters are ultimately artists, and sports is nothing if not art.

Thus, the passing of Hank Greenwald, longtime Giants, Warriors and A’s broadcaster and part of the microphone’s golden age in these parts, evokes memories of the artistry not only of athletes but of the people who described their exploits.

Greenwald, 83, was a man of his time, using fewer words than would be considered normal today to trust a scene to describe itself, as was the fashion of the day. His work with Bill King on the Warriors in the ‘60s and ‘70s was exemplary for its knowledge, pacing, literacy and humor, and their ability to play off each other seamlessly. King once described a situation in a Warriors game as one in which “They have to get a basket here, they absolutely have to!” to which Greenwald drily returned, “Well, they don’t have to, but it would be a good idea.”

But he made his reputation in his time with the Giants from 1979 to 1986 and then, after a brief hiatus, with the George Steinbrenner Era Yankees, from 1989 through 1996. His was the voice that described Will Clark’s single that won the 1989 NL Championship Series and sent the Giants to their first World Series in 27 years, and by that time he had been placed atop the plinth of great Bay Area announcers that included King and longtime Giants, 49ers and A’s broadcaster Lon Simmons.

Greenwald, who changed his name from Howard to honor Detroit Tiger Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, was the defining feature of a series of mediocre Giants seasons, making the broadcasts must-listen affairs even when the quality of the play did not match the elegance of the descriptions. Such is often the way, with the best broadcasters making the unpalatable pleasant and the palatable electric.

Greenwald was fiercely objective on air at a time when the business was slowly giving itself over to home-slanted broadcasters, and he jousted with both radio and club management in his time. It was that objectivity that most linked him to his audience, which knew they would not only get a game and some laughs but a square count about the on-field performances of those he was paid to detail. He regarded himself as the public trustee for the trivial pursuit we call sport, and he went out as honestly as he came in from Syracuse, New York, 60 years ago.

Greenwald is survived by his wife Carla, son Doug, himself a broadcaster, and daughter Kellie.