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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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Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

SAN DIEGO -- Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run home run off Stephen Strasburg in the first inning of the right-hander's first start in almost a month and the San Diego Padres beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 Saturday night.

Strasburg (10-4) retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a single to Jose Pirela and then the homer to the switch-hitting Solarte, who drove a 96-mph fastball to right for his 13th.

Strasburg then settled down against his hometown team, retiring 10 straight batters and 13 of 14. He went six innings, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out eight and walking one.

He hadn't pitched since July 23, when he went only two innings at Arizona. He went on the disabled list with an elbow nerve impingement.

Strasburg pitched at West Hills High in suburban Santee and then at San Diego State for coach Tony Gwynn before going to the Nationals with the No. 1 pick overall in the 2009 draft.

While Strasburg pitched well, the Nationals had only three hits.

San Diego's Travis Wood (2-1) also settled down after laboring through the first inning, when he threw 35 pitches but didn't allow a run. He was unscathed until the fifth, when he allowed a one-out single to Jose Lobaton and a two-out double to Adrian Sanchez. The run was unearned because of Woods' throwing error on Strasburg's sacrifice bunt that advanced Lobaton.

Wood allowed just the unearned run on three hits in seven innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.

Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his 11th save.

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Matt Grace, Howie Kendrick lead Nationals past San Diego Padres

Matt Grace, Howie Kendrick lead Nationals past San Diego Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Matt Grace pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in place of injured Max Scherzer and Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff homer and drove in two runs to help the Washington Nationals beat the San Diego Padres 7-1 on Friday night.

Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start and placed on the 10-day disabled list with a sore neck. Grace and five relievers held San Diego to four hits.

Grace, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and pitched at UCLA, made his first big league start and his first start since 2012 when he was with Single-A Potomac. It was his 61st big league appearance.

The left-hander allowed two hits, struck out one and walked one. He retired Cory Spangenberg on a grounder to open the fifth and manager Dusty Baker came out to get him after 52 pitches.

Shawn Kelley came on and with one out allowed Dusty Coleman's solo homer into the second deck in left field, his fourth.

Joe Blanton (2-2) pitched a scoreless sixth for the win.

Kendrick homered to left on the third pitch from Luis Perdomo, his sixth leadoff shot this season and seventh homer overall. Kendrick also hit an RBI single with no outs in the seventh to chase Perdomo and give the Nationals a 5-1 lead. Pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza hit a sacrifice fly one batter earlier.

Adam Lind hit an RBI single in the sixth.

Washington's Michael A. Taylor robbed Yangervis Solarte of a home run with a perfectly timed leap to catch the ball above the 396 sign in center field leading off the second, and right fielder Andrew Stevenson made a nice running catch of Wil Myers' fly ball with a runner on third to end the fourth.

Perdomo (6-8) allowed five runs, three earned, and six hits while striking out five and walking three.