After the Nationals rode Stephen Strasburg and clutch failures by the Dodgers to a Game 2 victory to knot the series at 1-1, Game 3 was a must-win for the Dodgers with the announcement that Anibal Sanchez would start instead of Max Scherzer.
Things looked bleak at the outset, but the Dodgers battled back with a furious 6th inning rally for a comeback 8-4 victory.
It was easy to forget in the end, but Hyun-Jin Ryu started this game for the Dodgers and things got off to a rocky start when he issued a walk to Adam Eaton and then Juan Soto annihilated a ball to straight-away center for a 2-0 lead.
That proved almost disastrous as Sanchez spun a gem. The Dodgers did have a chance in the 1st when he gave up a single and two walks to load the bases, but the Dodgers couldn’t capitalize. In the next three innings, the Dodgers got just a double and a single (in separate innings) as Sanchez rolled. He then got the first two outs in the 5th before Max Muncy woke the Dodgers up a bit with a no-doubter to right, his second of the postseason, to make it 2-1.
After the Soto homer, Ryu got the next seven batters in a row, but he ran into trouble in the 4th again. Back-to-back singles got the Nationals started, but a fly out and a ground-ball double play kept things in reach. He ran into more trouble in the 5th, giving up a single that was advanced to second eventually and an intentional walk, before escaping again without damage.
That was the end of the road for Ryu, who rebounded nicely after a rough 1st. He went five innings, giving up the two runs on four hits and two walks, striking out three.
The Dodgers then made his work pay off against the Nationals bullpen … which was really starter Patrick Corbin in the 6th. After Cody Bellinger stared with a single (yes, he got a hit), things looked bleak when the next two batters made outs, but that’s when things just got started. David Freese pinch-hit for Gavin Lux and singled, then Russell Martin followed with a huge hit by crushing a double to left for a 3-2 lead.
After Chris Taylor drew a walk hitting for Ryu, Enrique Hernandez hit for Joc Pederson and smashed another double into left to plate another two runs to make it 5-2.
After Muncy was intentionally walked, Justin Turner took it personal and drilled a three-run shot to left for an 8-2 lead.
Hell after that Bellinger doubled, which meant both his hits this series came in the same inning.
Nationals got a chance to get back into the game immediately when Joe Kelly looked like it was April of 2019 again. He issued three walks and a single, including a wild pitch that plated a run before Dave Roberts decided to come get him with the game now 8-3 and the tying run on deck.
Julio Urias entered and put out the fire. He induced a sacrifice fly, which helped, but Howie Kendrick also had a great series for the Dodgers, running into an out while trying to get to third. Urias then got a pop-out to end the threat and avoid potential disaster.
After Freese doubled in the 7th, Martin walked and so did Hernandez to load the bases, but Muncy couldn’t come up with a hit to extend the lead.
Urias continued in the 7th, allowing one single, but getting a scoreless frame. That made it two important scoreless frames for him tonight.
Then came the Dodgers platoon relief matchup. Adam Kolarek got Soto again, this time a strikeout on six pitches. That brought on Kenta Maeda, who got a fly out and pop out in foul territory.
Martin wasn’t done with having a night, as after Freese singled (third hit of the night), Martin crushed another ball to left to make it 10-4.
Kenley Jansen was then tasked with the 9th and got it in 1-2-3 fashion, getting two quick strikeouts and a ground out to end it.
Tomorrow the Dodgers go for the NLDS victory after taking a 2-1 lead tonight.
The Nationals will send a more rested Schezer to the mound, facing off against Rich Hill and the entire pen.