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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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Trea Turner hits for the cycle despite freezing Colorado temperature

Trea Turner hits for the cycle despite freezing Colorado temperature

DENVER (AP) -- Trea Turner has hit for the third cycle in Washington Nationals history against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.

Turner also has a career-high seven RBIs on a cold night in the Mile High City.

He had a single in the first, a two-run double in the second, a two-run homer in the sixth and a bases-loaded triple in the seventh.


The field temperature was a balmy 37 degrees when Turner recorded the final part of his cycle in the seventh inning.

It was the first cycle by the Nationals since Cristian Guzman on Aug. 28, 2008.

Overall, this was the ninth cycle in Expos/Nationals history.

In addition, Turner's seven RBIs are tied for the second-most in a single game in Nationals history.

The Nationals hung on to beat the Rockies 15-12 after giving up seven runs in the final three innings.

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Bryce Harper named National League Player of the Week

Bryce Harper named National League Player of the Week

If you've understandably been caught up with the Capitals and Wizards in their respective playoff series, you might not be aware of just how hot Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper is right now. Fresh off a three-game sweep of the rival Mets in New York, Harper was named National League Player of the Week. 

For the whole week, Harper hit .550 (11-for-20) with four doubles, three home runs, seven RBI, seven walks and 10 runs scored. 

He is now leading all of baseball in batting average (.400), he's tied for second in homers (7), and he's alone in second in RBI (20). He's also amassed a blistering 1.340 OPS through the team's first 18 games. 

Harper's biggest game of the past week came in Atlanta when he went yard twice, with his second homer being a grand slam. He finished the game 4-for-4 with two homers, one double, five RBI, one walk and four runs scored. 

With Harper's injuries from last season behind him (even though he won't completely admit to being hurt), the Nationals' right fielder is back to, or even better than, his 2015 form that ended with his first career MVP award. During that season Harper took home player of the week honors three times. 

The Nationals as a team have the best record in baseball at 13-5, and already have a three-game lead in the NL East. 

RELATED: MLB Power Rankings