WASHINGTON — The Nationals offense erupted when it mattered most, breaking Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers wide open with a four-run ninth inning to take a 2-1 series lead on Monday.
The Nats seemingly had an answer for everything the Dodgers threw at them. LA again struck first in the opening frame, with Corey Seager doubling home Justin Turner to take an early 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, Trea Turner singled, and Jayson Werth doubled to bring him home, tying the game 1-1. And then Bryce Harper singled, scoring Werth. Anthony Rendon followed up with a home run, emptying the bases to give the Nats a 4-1 lead.
The Dodgers returned with a two-run homer of their own, off the bat of Carlos Ruiz — a last-second pinch-hitter — to pull within one run in the fifth.
The Nationals weren’t done. Staring down the barrel of facing Game 4 elimination, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts elected to bring in his closer, Kenley Jansen, in the top of the ninth with the hope of keeping the score 4-3. But it backfired.
Werth took Jansen deep, deep, deep to left field on a 1-0 fastball to lead off the ninth, giving his club a much-needed insurance run to make the score 5-3. It also put Werth in elite historic company, tying him with Babe Ruth for 15 career postseason home runs, good for 11th all-time. Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran are tied for ninth on that list with 16.
Daniel Murphy walked in the next at-bat. Harper was then hit by a pitch to give the Nats runners on first and second.
Ryan Zimmerman then doubled to right field, with the ball glancing of Josh Reddick’s glove, to score Murphy and Harper for a 7-3 lead. Zimmerman advanced to third on the throwout attempt at home.
After another pitching change, Chris Heisey hit a sacrifice fly to left field off right-handed reliever Ross Stripling, deep enough to score Zimmerman for a commanding 8-3 lead. Mark Melancon closed out the victory for Washington by retiring the side in the bottom of the ninth.
With a Game 4 win on Tuesday, the Nationals can clinch their first NLCS appearance.