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Stunned Nationals can't appreciate craziness of Game 5

Stunned Nationals can't appreciate craziness of Game 5

WASHINGTON — The Nationals hugged each other tightly, congratulated each other on a good season — a season that ended abruptly and painfully. 

This was a postseason classic, for sure. A game that will be talked about for years. 

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts went to his closer, Kenley Jensen with none out in the seventh, and once the big man threw 51 pitches, it was time for Clayton Kershaw. 

Before the game, Roberts insisted that Kershaw would “absolutely not” pitch. The daring moves by Roberts didn’t matter to the Nationals. It was all too painful. 

“That’s what baseball’s about,” Bryce Harper said. “I thought we played a great five games, and we weren’t able to get the job done.” 

Harper could appreciate what happened. 

“They brought in their horse. They brought in the guy that’s got them through a lot of seasons. That’s why Clayton Kershaw is one of the best,” Harper said. 

Nationals manager Dusty Baker used six pitchers in the bizarre 66-minute seventh inning, one that saw the Dodgers score all four runs. 

After Joc Pederson homered off Max Scherzer, Baker started the parade with left-hander Marc Rzepycynski, who walked Yasmani Grandal, and that was Los Angeles’ second run. He took the loss.

“It starts with me. In the seventh inning, if I don’t walk that guy, who knows what happens?” Rzepczynski said. 

“They’re going to talk about how they brought Kenley in in the seventh inning and then Kershaw finished. No matter what, we came up a hit short. It’s going to be tough to swallow for a little bit, I know.”

Daniel Murphy finished the five game series with a .438 average (7-for-16). 

He scored the Nationals’ first run in the second inning but popped to second as Kershaw’s first batter. 

“In today’s game, in short playoff series, [you’re trying] to get your best relievers in the highest leverage situations, and he did, and then he doubled down and got maybe the best pitcher in the planet in there in the biggest spot of the entire game,” Murphy said. 

While he understood Roberts’ strategy, he couldn’t appreciate the theatre, the four hours, 32 minutes of wackiness. 

“Probably a little too close right now. The wound is still pretty fresh in here. I’ll probably more be thinking about the pitch that I got from Clayton that I thought I could have done a little bit more with,” Murphy said. 

“We’re not going to see each other until spring training. It’s frustrating and sad. Those are some of the things that hurt the most.”  

The stunned Harper who has now been part of three National League East title teams has seen his season end in the Division Series all three times. 

He wasn’t in the mood to reflect on the sheer amazement. That’s for fans. 

“I didn’t really think about what was going on or anything like that,” Harper said. 

“Watching from afar, you’re going to see everything that happens.” 

Had the Nationals won, Chris Heisey would have been a hero. He hit a pinch-hit two-run homer in the seventh that helped the craziness get started. 

“It happened really quick. It takes a little bit to sink in,” Heisey said. “I thought we had a chance the whole game.”

Early this season, Heisey ended a 16-inning game with the only game-ending home run of his career, so he knows dramatics. 

“It just wasn’t meant to be tonight,” Heisey said. 

“It was a great game to be a part of. It just stinks to be on this end of it.” 

[RELATED: Bullpen, baserunning cost Nats in loss to Dodgers]


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Max Scherzer's bid for third no-hitter ends in heartbreak

Max Scherzer's bid for third no-hitter ends in heartbreak

Max Scherzer's bid for the third no-hitter of his big league career ended with one out in the eighth inning, and he then gave up two unearned runs as the Miami Marlins rallied to beat the Washington Nationals 2-1 Wednesday.

After backup catcher A.J. Ellis reached on an infield single for Miami's first hit, an error by first baseman Adam Lind and a hit batter loaded the bases with two outs. Scherzer threw a wild pitch that scored the tying run, and Giancarlo Stanton lined an RBI single -- the Marlins' only other hit -- to put them ahead.

Scherzer (8-5) threw no-hitters against the Pirates and Mets in 2015, and he seemed on his way to another when he began the eighth inning with a 1-0 lead.

He retired 18 in a row before Ellis hit a chopper that bounced in front of the plate and glanced off the tip of Scherzer's glove as he reached overhead for it. The ball rolled to shortstop Trea Turner, who failed in his attempt to make a barehanded pickup and rush a throw.

MORE NATS: 12-3 win over Marlins Tuesday

Official scorer Ron Jernick immediately ruled the play a hit, and Scherzer knew it. He picked up the ball and angrily flung it to the dugout -- not as a souvenir.

Washington totaled five hits against Dan Straily and three relievers. Kyle Barraclough (3-1) pitched the eighth, and A.J. Ramos worked around a two-out single in the ninth for his 10th save.

Scherzer threw a season-high 121 pitches and had 11 strikeouts, reaching double figures for the sixth game in a row, the team's longest such streak such the franchise moved to Washington for the 2005 season.

He lowered his ERA to 2.08, best in the NL. He also leads the league with 145 strikeouts.

The other no-hitter in the majors this year was achieved on the same mound by Miami's Edinson Volquez against Arizona on June 3.

RELATED: 2017 MLB Power Rankings

The crowd of 22,659 for the 12:10 p.m. start included thousands of youngsters on camp day, and they gave the game a scream-filled soundtrack.

The score was 0-0 until Washington's Ryan Raburn hit his first homer of the year in the fifth. Raburn was a late replacement for outfielder Michael A. Taylor, who was scratched because he wasn't feeling well.

That was the only run allowed by Straily, who went six innings.

Scherzer walked Christian Yelich with two out in the first and hit Derek Dietrich with a pitch with one out in the second. That was Miami's last baserunner until the eighth.

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The Nats got hot Tuesday in Miami with 12-3 win over Marlins

The Nats got hot Tuesday in Miami with 12-3 win over Marlins

Gio Gonzalez had some worrisome moments on the mound Tuesday night, including when a friend sitting in the first row behind the Washington Nationals' dugout was hit in the head by a flying bat.

"Next time in the front row everyone will be wearing a helmet," Gonzalez said.

The friend later said he was fine, and Gonzalez felt good too after pitching seven innings to beat the Miami Marlins 12-3.

Gonzalez (7-1) allowed three runs, including two on Marcell Ozuna's 19th homer , but struck out eight and won his fourth consecutive decision.

"Exactly what we needed," manager Dusty Baker said. "Gio's throwing the ball great."

He had plenty of support even before a five-run ninth. Bryce Harper started the scoring with a two-run single that extended his hitting streak to 13 games, and Daniel Murphy had two RBIs and hit his 12th homer . Stephen Drew had three hits and three RBIs, while Ryan Zimmerman drove in three runs with a double and a single.

Gonzalez, who grew up in nearby Hialeah, improved to 7-3 in 13 starts against his hometown team with an ERA of 2.19. He had a cluster of friends and relatives in attendance, and that's where Justin Bour's bat went when it slipped from his hands on a swing in the fifth inning.

"It's good to have friends here, but put them somewhere safe," Gonzalez said.

He said his pal who was hit received a souvenir later as compensation for being clubbed.

"Bour gave him a bat, which is pretty cool on his part, because we want the fans to come back," Gonzalez said.

The left-hander said it was too early to talk about the possibility of pitching in the All-Star game, which will be played in his hometown next month. His teammates are rooting for it.

"Gio has been great," Harper said. "I'm hoping he pitches like this the rest of the first half and gets the start here. It would be incredible to see."

The NL East leaders went 7 for 14 with runners in scoring position, but it was still 0-0 when Edinson Volquez (3-8) walked Michael A. Taylor and Trea Turner in the third inning, and they advanced on a double steal.

With two outs, Harper tried to bunt on the first pitch -- a curious move by the slugger -- and pushed it foul. He golfed the next pitch into center for the Nationals' first hit to put them up 2-0.

"I don't hit Volquez very well," Harper said. "If I can lay a bunt down with a guy at third and get a knock and score a run ... but it worked out."

Pitching to Harper backfired for Miami, so the next time he came to bat, when the Nationals again had a runner in scoring position, Marlins manager Don Mattingly opted for an intentional walk. Zimmerman foiled the strategy with a two-run double.

"They've got a good lineup," Mattingly said. "They put you in a box in a number of ways."

Volquez allowed a season-high six runs in 4 2/3 innings.