Dreamlike sequence ends with Kershaw, Dodgers advancing to NLCS vs. Cubs

Closer Kenley Jansen, his goggles pushed up on his forehead, sat on the champagne-soaked hallway floor that leads to the Dodgers clubhouse early Friday morning. He was exhausted and trying to put into words what had just happened.

"When I saw that Clayton Kershaw was warming up, I said to myself, 'Am I dreaming?' " Jansen said. "It was unbelievable. It was awesome."

And it was a game the Dodgers and their will never forget.

They beat the Nationals 4-3 in Game 5 of the National League Division Series at Nats Park and move on to play the Chicago Cubs for the National League pennant starting this weekend.

The cards were stacked against the Dodgers.

First, they were going up against Nationals starter Max Scherzer while their own pitcher, Rich Hill, was pitching on three days' rest. Their long reliever was Julio Urias, a 20-year-old pitcher who was expected to perform in a hostile stadium even though he hadn't pitched in two weeks.

The Dodgers loaded the bases with one out in the fifth and couldn't score against Scherzer.

They scored four runs in the seventh inning and brought on Jansen for the bottom of the seventh. He threw 50 pitches - more than he's ever thrown - and got seven outs before Kershaw, who pitched Game 4, came into to get the final two outs.

Keep in mind Kershaw missed 75 days during the season because of a herniated disc and that he was pitching out of the bullpen on two days of rest.

When asked before the game if Kershaw would be available, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts answered, "Absolutely not.''

And that was the plan until Kershaw came up to Roberts in the dugout during the eighth inning and said that he could pitch. Roberts had a talk with the trainers, and Kershaw started to get loose.

"This game encapsulates our season - probably to the extreme,'' Roberts said. "It was a crazy game.''

Jansen said that the plan was for him to throw three innings tonight. "I was throwing as hard as I could for as long as I could," he said.

Jansen started the ninth inning by striking out the Nationals' Trea Turner. Then, he walked Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth with Daniel Murphy coming up.

That's when Roberts called for Kershaw.

"I went to him once Kenley went out there for the seventh,'' Kershaw said. "I was doing the math. I don't think Kenley has had a six-out save, let alone a nine-out save. I just said, 'I'm going to be get loose and see how I feel, but I might be able to do this.'

"As far as an easy sell or not an easy sell, I'd say it was a medium sell."

Kershaw pitching was a surprise to Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager.

"I didn't even know he was warming up until the Harper at-bat," Seager said. "It shows his character."

Kershaw got Murphy on a pop to second and then struck out pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo to end the game.

"It was do or die," Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "There were some gutsy moves by Dave Roberts."

Kershaw was supposed to throw a bullpen session before the game, but he skipped it. What was he thinking as he ran in from the bullpen to face Murphy?

"I sure hope I get him out,'' Kershaw said. "He's probably the best hitter in the National League. But I knew all along that I would have Murphy. He's such a tough out. All I did was throw as hard as I could hope that he gets out.''

Kershaw said it was a tough series because of how difficult the Nationals lineup is to pitch against.

"Every at-bat, every pitch it seemed like was important," Kershaw said. "The Nationals' at-bats for the entire series felt like it was constant 2-2, foul off three pitches, seven-pitch at-bats."

Now the Dodgers go to Chicago and play two games in Wrigley Field.

"It's a satisfying feeling tonight, but tomorrow we are going to Chicago and our mind is completed shifted toward beating the Cubs," Kershaw said. "They are a pretty solid team from what I understand."

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