(The Sports Xchange) – Clayton Kershaw recorded the final two outs in the bottom of the ninth as the Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to the National League Championship Series with a Game Five 4-3 road victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday.
Two days after starting Game Four in Los Angeles, Kershaw made his first relief appearance since 2009 and sealed the victory by retiring Daniel Murphy on a pop-up to second base before striking out pinch hitter Wilmer Difo.
The Dodgers won the last two games of the best-of-five series and will begin the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Saturday. That series is best-of-seven.
Carlos Ruiz had the go-ahead single in a four-run seventh off Marc Rzepczynski (0-1) and Justin Turner added a two-run triple to give Los Angeles a 4-1 lead.
Kershaw came on for Kenley Jansen, who entered the game with no outs in the seventh after Washington’s Chris Heisey hit a two-run pinch-hit homer off Grant Dayton to reduce the deficit to one.
Bryce Harper then singled to left with one out as pinch-runner Joe Ross, a pitcher who started Game Four, went from first to third, but Jansen fanned Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Jansen retired the side in the eighth but issued consecutive one-out walks to Harper and Werth in the ninth that forced the Dodgers to call on Kershaw.
Earlier, Joc Pederson led off the seventh with a solo homer to left off Washington starter Max Scherzer, who gave up the one run on five hits with seven strikeouts in six-plus innings while throwing 98 pitches, to tie the game at 1-1.
Yasmani Grandal walked and Howie Kendrick had a pinch-hit single later in the inning. Ruiz then had a pinch-hit RBI single off lefty Sammy Solis that glanced off the glove of Rendon’s glove into left field as Austin Barnes scored to make it 2-1.
With two outs, Turner crushed his two-run triple off Shawn Kelley to center to give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead.
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second as Danny Espinosa, batting .091 in the series, hit an RBI single to right that scored Murphy, who avoided a tag by Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal before he stepped emphatically on the plate.
(Editing by John O’Brien)