NLDS Game 4: Dodgers Overcome 7th Inning Collapse To Force Game 5
Nlds Game 4: Dodgers Overcome 7th Inning Collapse To Force Game 5
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers entered Game 4 of the National League Division Series facing elimination and hampered by a taxed bullpen. With that, the club elected to start Clayton Kershaw on short rest against the Washington Nationals.

The postseason start was Kershaw’s 12th of his career, which surpassed Burt Hooton for most in Dodgers history. In similar fashion to Game 1, the Nationals strung together at-bats that forced Kershaw to labor for outs.

But it wasn’t before Trea Turner opened the game with a single on the first pitch he saw. Bryce Harper then followed with a walk on the ninth pitch of his plate appearance.

After a Jayson Werth strikeout, Daniel Murphy’s dribbler to the right side carried through the infield for an RBI single. Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman both flied out to right, and while Kershaw allowed just one run, he threw 27 pitches.

It was his highest total in a single inning over the past two seasons. Joe Ross quickly retired the first two batters faced in the bottom half of the inning. It marked the first time in the NLDS that Corey Seager, who struck out, did not produce an RBI in a first-inning at-bat.

Ross’ first pitch to Justin Turner hit him on the back of his left shoulder. That proved costly as Adrian Gonzalez hit a go-ahead, two-run home run. Kershaw responded to a long inning by getting through the bottom third of the Nationals’ lineup on just nine pitches.

Singles from Trea Turner and Werth put runners on the corners with one out in the third inning, and Murphy’s sacrifice fly tied the game. Kershaw led off the bottom of the third with a double down the left-field line for his first career extra-base hit in the postseason.

What’s more, Kershaw joined Ed Lopat (1949-52) and Tom Glavine (1995-98) as only pitchers in MLB history with at least one hit in four straight postseasons. The Dodgers nearly stranded Kershaw, as Ross struck out Chase Utley and induced Seager into a pop-out.

Justin Turner’s line drive to left-center field dropped for an RBI single, thanks in some part to Trea Turner taking a poor route. Ross walked Gonzalez and Josh Reddick to load the bases. He left multiple fastballs over the heart of the plate but got away with it as Joc Pederson fouled them off.

However, Ross hit Pederson on the knee, to bring a run in and mark the end of Ross’ day. Oliver Perez put out the fire by retiring Yasmani Grandal to end the inning. Kershaw was once again efficient when facing the bottom half of the lineup, picking up a pair of strikeouts and retiring the side in order on nine pitches in the fourth.

He struck out the first two batters faced in the fifth, then got Harper to ground out for a 13-pitch inning. After Reddick reached on a two-out infield single, Pederson lined an RBI double to left, extending the Dodgers’ lead to 5-2.

The run scored off Reynaldo Lopez was the first the Nationals bullpen allowed in the NLDS. After Werth led off the sixth with a single to left field, Murphy and Rendon lined out. In Rendon’s case, he was robbed of a hit by Pederson’s diving catch in left-center field.

Kershaw then struck out Zimmerman to end the inning. Despite having already thrown 89 pitches on short rest, the Dodgers’ ace hit for himself in the bottom of the sixth and drew a one-out walk. Lopez struck out Utley and Seager to strand Kershaw.

Espinos jumped on the first pitch he saw and pulled a leadoff single into left field for his first hit of the NLDS. Seager made a diving stop on a Turner groundball up the middle, only for his toss to second base was late.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts went out to the mound but left Kershaw in the game to face Harper with two on and two outs. The last two NL MVPs locked horns for a tremendous plate appearance that went to a full count and ended with Harper drawing a walk on Kershaw’s 110th pitch of the game.

Pedro Baez came on in relief and his first and only pitch hit Werth to bring a run in, cutting the Dodgers’ lead to 5-3. Luis Avilan then entered to face Murphy, and promptly allowed a game-tying single. Joe Blanton, the next reliever called into the game, struck out Rendon on three pitches.

Blake Treinen hit Andrew Toles with a pitch with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Pinch-hitter Andre Ethier kept the inning alive with base hit to left, and Utley delivered with an RBI single to give the Dodgers a 6-5 lead.

Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth and converted his second save of the NLDS to force a decided Game 5 at Nationals Park on Thursday.