NATIONALS: In Game 2, RHP Tanner Roark (16-10, 2.83 ERA) starts for the Nationals, taking the assignment that likely would have gone to Stephen Strasburg if he were healthy. DODGERS: LHP Rich Hill (3-2, 1.84 ERA in six starts after a trade from Oakland) will pitch for the Dodgers. He was let go from Washington’s Triple-A Syracuse affiliate last year.
wasn’t easy,” Kershaw said. “As close as you can bend without breaking, I guess.”
His work done, Kershaw was able to relax in the dugout, chewing gum and blowing bubbles while watching relievers Joe Blanton, Grant Dayton, Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen combine to give up one hit over four scoreless innings. Jansen got his first five-out save since April.
“Whatever we’ve got to do to win, right? Those guys are up to the challenge,” Seager said about LA’s bullpen. “And they’ve been up to it all year.”
Game 2 in the best-of-five matchup is Saturday at Washington.
Facing the NL East champs, Kershaw’s three runs might not sound like an exorbitant total, but an opponent scored that many only once in the lefty’s preceding 16 starts. And there was a stopand-start feel to the evening, because of plenty of boo-inducing mound visits from catcher Yasmani Grandal.
“I wanted to be sure on the signs. We were trying to change ‘em up pretty often,” said Kershaw, who improved to 3-6 in the playoffs , a far cry from his regular-season record of 126-60 with a 2.37 ERA and three Cy Young Awards. “It was mainly that I had so many guys on second base.” Certainly did. Kershaw left the bases loaded in the second, and stranded two runners in both the third and fifth — striking out Danny Espinosa along the way each time.
“We had him on the ropes a couple times,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, “and, you know, the big hit just escaped us.”
There was also a baserunning blunder by NL MVP contender Daniel Murphy in the seventh inning.