The Dodgers made the most of an impossible situation, faced the best pitcher in the National League and lived to tell about it, then secured their first win of the season after trailing to start the ninth inning, beating the Nationals 5-4 in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday night in Washington D.C.
With the doubleheader sweep the Dodgers are assured of a series in this weekend, their first series win since the last time they faced the Nationals back in April.
Down 4-3 in the ninth inning, Austin Barnes and Logan Forsythe both singled after falling behind 0-2 in the count against Nationals closer extraordinaire Sean Doolittle, who last allowed a run 34 days ago.
Matt Kemp followed with a pinch-hit double to drive both home, giving the Dodgers just their fifth comeback win of the season. They improved to 1-22 when trailing entering the ninth inning.
Kemp is 15-for-32 (.469) with runners in scoring position this season.
Kenley Jansen retired the side in the ninth inning about five hours after doing the same in the first game of the doubleheader, the first Dodgers pitcher with two saves in one day since Jonathan Broxton saved a pair in San Diego on Apr. 9, 2011.
The first of those was the resumption of a suspended game from the night before, so if you want to get technical the last Dodger to save both games of a doubleheader was Jeff Shaw on Aug. 25, 2000 at Wrigley Field.
Rich Hill leaving after just two pitches with a blister on his left hand was a real middle finger to the Dodgers’ chances in this contest against Max Scherzer.
Even though Hill left so early, the bullpen first entered the game with a lead, thanks to a pop fly double into the left field corner by Joc Pederson to open the game. He might have had a leadoff triple for a second time on Saturday but wasn’t running hard out of the box, and settled for a double.
Pederson, unlike Cody Bellinger last month in San Francisco, remained in the game, and scored on a single by the suddenly productive Max Muncy, who also homered in the fifth against Scherzer.
Muncy has an extra-base hit in five of his last six starts, and is hitting .258/.351/.515 on the season.
The bullpen held the Nationals at bay for a while, with Scott Alexander, Pedro Baez and Yimi Garcia combining to not allow a hit through the first five innings.
The Dodgers made Scherzer work in addition to their two runs, putting 108 pitches on his odometer through six innings. He had 13 strikeouts at that point, the seventh time in 10 starts he has fanned double digits this season.
The hitless string ended quickly in the sixth, when Trea Turner doubled off the wall in right center field. Washington had four hits in the sixth inning off three relievers, the turning point a two-run single by Matt Adams that turned a one-run deficit into a 3-2 Nationals lead. Even though the Dodgers ran up Scherzer’s pitch count he was allowed to bat in the sixth, and with two outs he delivered a single behind second base to give the Nationals an insurance run.
Hudson, who stranded his first four inherited runners as a Dodger, on Saturday night entered with the bases loaded with two outs, and saw all of them score.
Buoyed by his first lead of the game, Scherzer pitched the seventh as well and worked around a walk to get out of the frame, retiring Muncy on a double play to end the threat. Scherzer has a 1.78 ERA and 104 strikeouts in his 10 starts this season, the fastest pitcher to 100 strikeouts in a season.
Bellinger got the Dodgers within one with a solo home run in the eighth inning against Sammy Solis, Bellinger’s third home run in his last seven games. It was also the Dodgers’ 16th straight solo home run. Their last homer with somebody on base came was hit on May 1.
Chris Taylor tripled with one out in the eighth inning to give the Dodgers a chance to tie, but after pinch-hitter Justin Turner was intentionally walked Yasiel Puig grounded into a double play to keep the tying run 90 feet away. For a little while, at least.
The bullpen ended up recording all 27 outs in the game, with newcomer Erik Goeddel getting the win after pitching a scoreless eighth inning.
The Dodgers will send Alex Wood to the mound on Sunday looking for their second series sweep this season. Washington counters with Stephen Strasburg in a 10:35 a.m. PT start that will also be televised by MLB Network in non-local markets.
Saturday Game 2 particulars
Home runs: Max Muncy (4), Cody Bellinger (7)
WP - Erik Goeddel (3-0): 1 IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
LP - Sean Doolittle (1-2): 1 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (8): 1 IP, 1 strikeout