With his home run in the seventh inning against Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, Joc Pederson became just the third Dodgers player to hit a home run in a winner-take-all postseason game, and the first in 35 years.
Thursday is the 10th winner-take-all postseason game the Dodgers have played in in franchise history. They won five of the first nine, including four of five since moving to Los Angeles in 1958, with the only LA loss coming in the 2015 NLDS in Game 5 against the Mets.
Pederson’s home run joined a pair of memorable Dodgers home runs in such games.
The first was Lou Johnson, who hit a solo shot against Jim Kaat in the fourth inning of Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead over the Twins, a game LA would eventually win 2-0.
Johnson was a 30-year-old journeyman who hadn’t played in the majors since 1962, but once Tommy Davis ended his season in May 1965 with a broken ankle, Johnson was called up to take his place and filled in left field.
Johnson was 8-for-27 (.296) with two doubles and two home runs in the 1965 World Series, starting all seven games.
Then came Rick Monday in 1981, against Steve Rogers in the ninth inning of the decisive Game 5 of the NLCS in Montreal, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 win over the Expos and a trip to face the Yankees in the World Series.
Monday, already etched in baseball lore as the first No. 1 draft pick ever, in 1965 by the Kansas City A’s, and again as the player who saved an American flag from being burned on April 25, 1976 at Dodger Stadium, as a Cub, had a third signature moment in his career with this pennant-clinching dinger.
Rogers was one of the best starting pitchers in the National League in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and started 393 of his 399 career regular season games. This was his only career relief appearance in the postseason, and the only home run he ever allowed as a reliever in his career.
That NLCS was the only series the Dodgers ever played against the Expos, who moved to Washington and became the Nationals in 2005.