Backup has their back

Re­serve Lo­ba­ton’s 3-run homer helps Nats tie se­ries 1-1

Baltimore Sun - - MLB PLAYOFFS - By Howard Fen­drich

WASHINGTON — Lit­tle-used, light-hit­ting Jose Lo­ba­ton changed the com­plex­ion of the Na­tion­als’ NL Di­vi­sion Se­ries with one big swing.

Get­ting a rare chance to play be­cause of start­ing catcher Wil­son Ramos’ in­jury, Lo­ba­ton hit a three­run homer to erase an early deficit Sun­day. Daniel Mur­phy drove in two runs, and the bullpen threw 42⁄ score­less in­nings, lead­ing the Na­tion­als past the Dodgers 5-2 in a rain­post­poned Game 2 to even the se­ries 1-1.

“I’ve got to try to do some­thing for the team,” said Lo­ba­ton, who had one hit off a left-han­der all sea­son be­fore con­nect­ing off Rich Hill with two out in the fourth in­ning. “Play hard ev­ery day, no mat­ter who is in and who is not.”

The Na­tion­als trailed 2-0 when Hill al­lowed No. 8 hit­ter Lo­ba­ton to put the hosts ahead for good.

“One bad pitch to a guy that I don’t think any­body re­ally thought was go­ing to be that guy to hurt us,” said Josh Red­dick, who drove in a run for the Dodgers off Tan­ner Roark af­ter Corey Sea­ger hit his sec­ond home run of the NLDS. “But that’s what hap­pens, and any­body can be the guy in the post­sea­son.”

Lo­ba­ton’s blast put the Nats ahead 3-2 against Hill, who went 41⁄ in­nings. Af­ter a walk and two outs, Hill plunked Danny Espinosa for the sec­ond time. That mis­take proved costly when Lo­ba­ton came through.

What made the drive all the more sur­pris­ing was that it went over the wall in left, where a wind top­ping The Na­tion­als’ Jose Lo­ba­ton fol­lows through on his home run swing af­ter con­nect­ing for a three-run shot in Game 2. DODGERS VS. NA­TION­ALS Se­ries tied 1-1 Game 1: Dodgers 4-3 Game 2: Na­tion­als 5-2 Game 3: 4 p.m. Mon­day Na­tion­als (Gon­za­lez 11-11) at Dodgers (Maeda 16-10), MLB Game 4: 5 p.m. Tues­day Na­tion­als (TBD) at Dodgers (Urias 5-2), FS1 Game 5: 5 p.m. Thurs­day* Dodgers at Na­tion­als, FS1 x-if nec­es­sary 30 mph was blow­ing in much of the af­ter­noon.

“When he hit it, there was a bunch of peo­ple in the dugout who were, like, cussing be­cause we didn’t think he could get it out,” Na­tion­als left fielder Jayson Werth said. “All kinds of ex­ple­tives were be­ing thrown around. And then it snuck over for us. That was the game right there.”

Mur­phy went 3-for-3 with two RBI sin­gles.

Mark Me­lan­con worked around a sin­gle in the ninth — the lone hit al­lowed by five re­liev­ers — to earn the save.

“This was pretty much a must-win game for us,” Werth said. “Def­i­nitely don’t want to head west down two.”

PABLO MAR­TINEZ MON­SI­VAIS/AP

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