Braves, Astros, Yanks win:
By Sam Bush
Stephen Strasburg turned in another dominant playoff outing, Max Scherzer relieved him for an inning and the Nationals held off the Dodgers 4-2 to even their NL Division Series at a game apiece.
Scherzer struck out the side in the eighth, but Washington’s shaky bullpen still ran into trouble. Daniel Hudson labored through the ninth, loading the bases with two outs before striking out Corey Seager for the save. The tense final inning also included a twisting, falling grab by third baseman Anthony Rendon on Cody Bellinger’s pop fly in shallow left field, as well as a gutsy intentional walk by manager Dave Martinez that brought the winning run to bat.
Game 3 is back in Washington on Sunday night, where Scherzer was expected to face major league ERA leader Hyun-Jin Ryu.
“I’m going to see how he feels tomorrow,” said Martinez, adding Anibal Sánchez would start Sunday if Scherzer doesn’t.
Pitching on the shortest rest of his career, Strasburg took a perfect game into the fifth inning while outdueling Clayton Kershaw. Strasburg pitched one-run ball for six innings and struck out 10, lowering his career postseason ERA to 0.64 — the best in history for players with at least four starts. He edged out Dodgers great Sandy Koufax (0.95 ERA), who watched from the front row.
Rookie Will Smith broke up Strasburg’s perfect bid with a two-out single. The three-time All-Star allowed his first earned run in 23 consecutive postseason innings dating to the 2014 NLDS against San Francisco and limited Los Angeles to three hits and no walks.
Scherzer came on for the eighth and punched out Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson on 14 pitches. The 35-year-old right-hander threw 77 pitches in the NL wild-card game Tuesday, yet he topped out at 99 mph in his fourth career playoff relief appearance.
“We weren’t expecting that,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Justin Turner led off the ninth with a ground-rule double off Hudson, spurring hope from a chanting, clapping sellout crowd of 53,086. A.J. Pollock struck out, and then Bellinger popped up to shallow left. Rendon misjudged the ball but recovered and made the catch while he tumbled over. The goateed All-Star smiled wide as he stood.
“The ball kept going and I kept thinking, ‘Where the hell is our left fielder at?’” Rendon said. “He didn’t call it so I knew I had to catch it.”
Martinez intentionally walked Max Muncy, who hit a solo shot off Sean Doolittle in the seventh, before Hudson walked Will Smith to load the bases. Seager fouled off four fastballs before Hudson got him to swing over a slider.
Los Angeles struck out 17 times.
Strasburg was making the first start of his 10-year career on three days’ rest. The right-hander tossed three shutout innings with two hits Tuesday night in a dramatic wild-card victory over Milwaukee, the first relief appearance of his career.
The Nationals took a 4-2 lead in the top of the eighth on Asdrúbal Cabrera’s pinch-hit RBI single.
By Los Angeles finally scored in the sixth on Turner’s sacrifice fly after Matt Beaty’s pinch-hit single and Pederson’s double. With the tying run at the plate, Pollock lined out to Strasburg to end the inning.