Dodgers down Nationals to level MLB playoff series


Chase Utley singled home Andrew Toles with the winning run in the eighth inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers edged Washington 6-5 to level their Major League Baseball playoff series.

Deadlocked 2-2 after Tuesday’s game, the best-of-five matchup will be decided Thursday at Washington, with the winner to face either the Chicago Cubs or San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series starting Saturday.

The Cubs, who have not won the World Series in 108 years in the longest title drought in North American sports history, and the Giants, seeking a fourth title in eight seasons, were to meet later Tuesday with visiting Chicago owning a 2-1 series edge.

After Washington scored three runs in the seventh inning to equalize, the Dodgers plated the deciding run in the eighth after Nationals relief pitcher Blake Treinen hit Andrew Toles to put him on first base.

Toles took third on Andre Ethier’s single and scored when Dodgers’ leadoff man Utley singled to right field.

Los Angeles closing relief pitcher Kenley Jansen retired the Nationals in order in the ninth and the stage was set foe a one-game showdown to see which team advances.

The Dodgers used starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw on short rest, gambling on a strong effort with Los Angeles facing elimination, and the move paid off despite early trouble.

Washington took the lead in the first inning when Trea Turner singled, took second when Bryce Harper walked and scored on a Daniel Murphy single.

Los Angeles took the lead when they came to bat in the first when Adrian Gonzalez smashed a two-run homer over the right-field wall.

Turner scored again in the third to pull the Nationals level. He singled, took third on a Jayson Werth single and scored on Murphy’s sacrifice fly out.

Kershaw helped his cause in the third with a leadoff double and scored the go-ahead run on a two-out double by Justin Turner.

Nationals pitcher Joe Ross issued two walks to load the bases and then hit Joc Pederson to force in Turner for a 4-2 Dodgers’ lead.

In ther fifth, Josh Reddick singled and scored when Pederson followed with a two-out double to left field, boosting the Los Angeles’ edge to 5-2.

Washington loaded the bases in the seventh inning, prompting the Dodgers’ to remove Kershaw for reliever Pedro Baez, but he struck Werth with a pitch to force in a run and was removed for Luis Avilan.

Murphy smacked a single to centerfield to score two runs and lift the Nationals level at 5-5.

© 2016 AFP

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