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Nationals bullpen, used early and often, comes up big

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Nationals bullpen, used early and often, comes up big

WASHINGTON—Dusty Baker did something he probably never would have done in a regular season game. He pulled starter Tanner Roark with a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning of Sunday’s Division Series Game against Los Angeles with two on and one out, and it paid off.

Baker’s bullpen—five relievers in all—combined to allow just one hit, and that didn’t come until the ninth inning when the Nationals already had a three-run lead and one out. 

Roark had already given up seven hits, and the Nationals manager noted they had already loaded the bases twice. 

“Just kind of looked like they were on him, and you know, we had the lead, and we didn’t want to trade places with them,” Baker said. 

RELATED: DUSTY BAKER UNDECIDED ON NLDS GAME 4 STARTER

Baker, managing in his 47th postseason game, called on his most experienced postseason reliever, Marc Rzepczynski, appearing in his 19th postseason game. 

Rzepczynski faced seven batters, the second most since he was acquired from Oakland on Aug. 25, and got four outs. 

He walked three, but left the game for Sammy Solis, who retired Adrian Gonzalez on a fly out to left, ending the seventh. 

“That was a big part of the game and a big part of the lineup. We stretched him out further than we usually do,” Baker said. 

“We stretched him out because of the time of the game that we were in, and I think he tired a bit. That’s why I went and got him because he’s usually throwing ground balls. He usually doesn’t walk people.” 

Rzepczynski, known as “Scrabble” for the exceedingly difficult pronunciation of his name (it’s zep-CHIN-skee), admitted he was tired when he walked his final batter Justin Turner just after he struck out Corey Seager. He also walked Yasiel Puig and Chase Utley

The 31-year-old left-hander wasn’t surprised that Baker went to him so early. 

“I’m thinking it’s playoffs,” Rzepczynski said. “No, I was not surprised. With his kind of lineup, I knew it was going to be one of the lefties early if Tanner got in trouble. I was definitely ready, fifth inning, sixth inning, it doesn’t matter.”

Blake Treinen came in to start the seventh, got four outs and was awarded the win because he was judged the most effective reliever. 

“A lot of adrenaline. You sit in the bullpen and watch the game transpire, and then actually getting out there, you have to bring yourself down,” Treinen said. 

Oliver Perez got the final two outs of the eighth, and Mark Melancon worked the ninth for the save. 

Treinen wasn’t surprised to see Baker make the call so early in the game. 

“A lot of times you probably ride your starter out. It’s playoffs. It’s still new to me, so I’m not going to sit here and try and analyze that,” Treinen said. 

Los Angeles starter Rich Hill was also pulled after 4 1/3 innings, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also used five relievers. 

“Both sides were aggressively going to their bullpen, and this kind of shows you the importance of the bullpen in these playoffs,” Baker said. 

Baker, who managed his first postseason game in 1997, knows it’s a different game now. Cleveland manager Terry Francona used his best reliever, Andrew Miller, in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the Indians series with Boston

“I don’t know if it’s the new normal, but with the pitchers not throwing complete games very often, that is how the game has evolved,” Baker said. 

It was the first postseason game for Solis and Treinen. 

“A lot of these kids, they’re ready. Blake’s first appearance was today. You saw how good he was,” Rzepczynski said. 

The postseason veteran didn’t try and chat up the playoff newbies. 

“We talk a little bit about it, but I don’t try and worry about the past too much,” Rzepczynski said. “Having the playoff experience helps, but it’s definitely nerve wracking at the same time.” 

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Murphy, Scherzer slam Mets with 7th straight win

Murphy, Scherzer slam Mets with 7th straight win

NEW YORK -- Daniel Murphy hit an early grand slam against his former team, Max Scherzer pitched eight fiery innings and the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets 6-3 on Sunday night for their seventh straight victory.

Ryan Zimmerman added a two-run homer for the Nationals, who completed a three-game sweep of the short-handed Mets in the first series this season between the NL East rivals.

Missing slugger Yoenis Cespedes and two other injured starters, New York (8-11) has lost four in a row and eight of nine to fall 5 1/2 games behind the Nationals, who own the best record in the majors at 13-5. The winning streak is their longest since a seven-game run last April.

Scherzer (3-1) struck out nine and walked one in his latest win over the Mets, a team he has often dominated -- especially since signing with Washington in January 2015. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, who fanned 17 in a no-hitter at Citi Field on Oct. 3, 2015, pumped his fist and slapped his glove after setting down the crucial hitters in this one.

Koda Glover got three outs for his second major league save, both in the past two days.

Michael Conforto hit his second leadoff homer of the series and had three hits for New York. Neil Walker's two-run homer pulled the Mets to 4-3 in the third, but that was all Scherzer allowed. He got a double-play grounder after Conforto's one-out single in the fifth and retired his final 10 batters.

Murphy connected in the first off Zack Wheeler (1-2), who had sharp stuff throughout his seven innings of four-hit ball. Zimmerman went deep in the eighth against reliever Josh Smoker to make it 6-3.

Murphy, booed by the Queens crowd, has eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 22 games against the Mets since they let him leave as a free agent before last season.

More Nationals: DOES MIKE RIZZO SEE THE NATS HAVING A CLOSER BY COMMITTEE?​

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Daniel Murphy strikes again vs. Mets with second career grand slam

Daniel Murphy strikes again vs. Mets with second career grand slam

If you can’t be with them — beat them.

That seems to be the slogan Daniel Murphy has lived by since leaving the Mets in 2015.

Tonight’s game started off with a bang… a grand slam by Murphy himself. This helped launch the Nationals to a 4-0 lead.

Just like these boys in the tweet, we “give a five” to Murphy as it was also the second grand slam of his career, both hit while playing under the Nationals. This follows his career night where he helped the Nats knock off the Cardinals

Muprhy has absolutely owned the Mets since joing the Nationals. he has recorded at least one base hit in all 19 head-to-head games.

RELATED: DOES MIKE RIZZO SEE THE NATS HAVING A CLOSER BY COMITTEE?