The Nationals pitchers held power-hitting Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger to a single and a double with no RBIs on Sunday night.
The only problem? Both hits came in the same inning.
The Dodgers scored seven runs in the sixth inning to beat the Nationals 10-4 in Game 3 of their National League Division Series before 43,423 at Nationals Park.
The Dodgers lead the best-of-five series two games to one and need one more win to advance to their fourth consecutive NL Championship Series, against either the Braves or Cardinals.
The Dodgers will pitch Rich Hill on Monday night in Game 4 at Nationals Park against Max Scherzer. The Nationals will be trying to force a Game 5 in Los Angeles on Wednesday and hope to avoid finishing another postseason with a loss at home, something that’s happened three of the first four seasons they’ve played in October.
“When you are facing Max Scherzer, it’s better to be ahead 2-1 then behind 2-1,” Dodgers outfielder Kiké Hernández said. “We know we at least are getting to go home for another game.’‘
Bellinger said the Dodgers know what Scherzer’s got in his pitch selection and the team knows that “he’ll be crazy and staring at us.”
The Dodgers trailed 2-1 coming into the sixth inning, thanks to Nationals starter Aníbal Sánchez’s nine strikeouts in five innings. But Nationals starter-turned-reliever Patrick Corbin had things under control when he entered to begin the sixth. The Nationals’ bullpen is thin, so Corbin, like fellow starters Stephen Strasburg and Scherzer, pitched in relief instead of throwing his between-starts bullpen session.
Corbin allowed a single to Bellinger, but struck out Corey Seager and A.J. Pollock.
Then the Dodgers’ two-out seven-run rally started.
David Freese singled to right and that was followed Russell Martin’s two-run double to left-center. Chris Taylor walked and he and Martin scored on pinch-hitter Hernández’s double to left.
Corbin intentionally walked Max Muncy and Justin Turner greeted Nationals reliever Wander Suero with a sharp three-run line drive home run over the Dodgers bullpen in left field.
Suero threw six pitches and gave up a home run and a double.
The two-out rally is nothing new for the Dodgers, Bellinger said: “We’ve been doing it all year - ninth inning, seventh, sixth. We are not going to stop grinding.”
Martin added a two-run home run in the ninth to make it 10-4. He has six career postseason home runs.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who has struggled this season and hadn’t pitched since Sept. 28 against the Giants, worked the ninth inning. He hasn’t pitched back-to-back games since Sept. 24-25.
Jansen struck out Washington’s Asdrúbal Cabrera and Michael A. Taylor. Pinch-hitter Matt Adams grounded out to end the game.
If the Dodgers are to continue their trek to a third consecutive appearance in the World Series, they’ll need a strong start in Game 4 from Hill, a 39-year-old lefty who has battled elbow and knee injuries this season.
Hill was sidelined during July and August and pitched 5 2/3 innings during September.
“We’re prepared, Rich is prepared,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “The plan is to have Rich start.”