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Stopping Justin Turner, homers key for Nats win over Dodgers in Game 5

Stopping Justin Turner, homers key for Nats win over Dodgers in Game 5

Here are some trends that have stood out through four games between the Nats and Dodgers in the NL Division Series, with a focus on how Los Angeles has managed to push it to a decisive Game 5 set for Thursday night in Washington...

Dodgers are scoring early and often - Of the Dodgers' 15 runs in the NL Division Series, 14 of them have come before the sixth inning. In each game the Dodgers have scored in the first inning, five runs in total. If the Nats can put up a few zeroes to begin Game 5, that would mark a notable breakthrough given how the first four of this series have played out. The Nats have to like their chances once the game moves to their bullpen, as the Dodgers have scored just two runs in 17 2/3 innings off their relievers.

Turner is having a monster series - Daniel Murphy isn't the only former Mets player making an impact in this series. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner has scored five runs and driven in three. The 31-year-old has five hits, including a two-run homer, and four walks. He's getting on base at a .647 clip and this has all come after he was hit on his left hand in his first at-bat of the series. The Nats simply have to find a way to stop this guy.

[RELATED: Former Nats pitcher Livan Hernandez to throw out Game 5 1st pitch]

Homers have been important for L.A. - The Dodgers were an average team at hitting homers this season, but not from the left side where they placed third among all MLB clubs. L.A. has five homers this series and three of them have been from lefties Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez.

The Dodgers have scored 15 total runs in the NLDS and eight have come off homers. Seager alone has hit two of them, both in the first innings of Games 1 and 2. 

The Dodgers' reliance on homers will certainly be something to watch in Game 5 with Nats starter Max Scherzer having allowed an NL-high 31 of them this season. Seventeen of those were hit by lefties, who slugged .442 this season off the Nats' ace compared to .288 for righties. The Dodgers have several lefty power bats, plus Andre Ethier who is banged up but could be valuable in a pinch-hit spot with a .926 OPS through 24 at-bats off Scherzer.

[RELATED: PODCAST: Can the Nationals stay alive in the playoffs?]

Dodgers' bullpen has shown cracks - L.A.'s relief staff had the best ERA in baseball this season and that number has technically improved in the playoffs, but there have been several spots this seres where they haven't come through.

In the Nats' Game 2 win, lefty Grant Dayton allowed an insurance run in the seventh inning. In the Nats' Game 3 victory, closer Kenley Jansen and right-hander Ross Stripling combined to give up four runs in the ninth inning, all of them charged to Jansen, who served up a monster homer to Jayson Werth and an RBI double by Ryan Zimmerman. Then, in Game 4, Pedro Baez and Luis Avilan allowed three runs to score, all of which were charged to Clayton Kershaw. 

The Nats have to be confident at this point they can get runs late in these games, given the success they have found so far.

[RELATED: Nats need Scherzer's best in NLDS Game 5 vs. Dodgers]

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Cubs catcher Miguel Montero to be designated for assignment after angry comments about Nats game

Cubs catcher Miguel Montero to be designated for assignment after angry comments about Nats game

The Washington Nationals were stealing bases all night long against the Chicago Cubs, swiping a total of seven bags in a 6-1 victory on Tuesday.

RELATED: TREA TURNER TIES FRANCHISE RECORD

Following the game, tensions were high for Cubs catcher Miguel Montero who quickly pointed the blame at pitcher Jake Arrieta for the stolen bases. 

Cubs star first baseman Anthony Rizzo addressed the situation, calling Montero "selfish."

Less than 24 hours later, Montero was designated for assignment. 

The Cubs have decided to call up Triple-A catcher Victor Caratini to replace Montero, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

The Nats may have literally run Montero out of Chicago. 

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Trea Turner ties franchise record of stolen bases in single game with Nats 6-1 win over Cubs

Trea Turner ties franchise record of stolen bases in single game with Nats 6-1 win over Cubs

WASHINGTON -- Neither of the past two NL Cy Young Award winners had his best stuff, though Max Scherzer handled things much better than Jake Arrieta.

Scherzer allowed one run and two hits as the Washington Nationals knocked Arrieta out in the fifth inning on the way to a 6-1 victory Tuesday night. While Arrieta was slow to the plate and allowed seven stolen bases, Scherzer (9-5) threw a strong six innings, striking out six with no walks and retiring 16 of the final 17 batters he faced.

"I didn't really have great fastball command tonight, but I was able to use my offspeed to kind of collect outs when I needed to and I didn't walk anybody," said Scherzer, who allowed an earned run in the first inning for the first time since April but was in command the rest of the night. "When we needed shutdown innings we got them."

Arrieta (7-6), on the other hand, struggled with his control as he issued a season-high six walks and allowed five earned runs, getting the hook two batters into the fifth inning. The 2015 Cy Young winner hadn't walked more than three batters in a game this season.

Manager Joe Maddon quipped that the Cubs "let the wrong guys on base," but catcher Miguel Montero blamed Arrieta for all the steals.

"The reason why they were running left and right today because they know he was slow to the plate," a visibly frustrated Montero said. "It really sucked because the stolen bases go to me, and when you really look at it, the pitcher doesn't give me any time."

Four of the Montreal Expos/Nationals franchise record seven steals came from speedy shortstop Trea Turner, who Arrieta called a "factor" any time he's on.

"I don't care who is behind the plate," Arrieta said. "He's a threat."

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Washington manager Dusty Baker said the team knew Arrieta was a pitcher to run on, and the result was a lot of small ball for a team accustomed to driving in runs with power. Washington center fielder Michael Taylor went 2 for 4 with two RBIs, and Scherzer washed out the RBI triple he allowed to Kris Bryant in the first by driving in a run with an infield single off Arrieta's glove in the fourth.

When Scherzer was lifted after 93 pitches through six with a comfortable 6-1 lead, the Nationals' beleaguered bullpen got three clean innings of relief from Enny Romero, Blake Treinen, Oliver Perez and Matt Albers.

Trea Turner tied the franchise record with four steals in a game, repeating his own feat from two weeks ago. He had a chance in the eighth to break the record and move within one of the most in a game in the modern era of baseball but did not try with Bryce Harper up and a five-run lead.

"I don't think I was held, but I didn't know if I was supposed to go," said Turner, who has 32 stolen bases this season.