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Dodgers eke past Nationals 6-5 to force NLDS Game 5

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The Dodgers overcame a troublesome seventh inning, defeating the Nationals 6-5 on Tuesday evening to even the NLDS at two games apiece and forcing a Game 5.

Starter Clayton Kershaw, pitching on three days’ rest, was a little shaky early, allowing a leadoff single to Trea Turner followed by a walk to Jayson Werth in the first inning. Turner would come around to score on a one-out single by Daniel Murphy, putting the Nationals up 1-0. The Dodgers immediately answered in the bottom half of the first, as Adrian Gonzalez launched a two-run home run to right-center off of Nationals starter Joe Ross.

The Nationals tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the third as Daniel Murphy knocked in Turner again, this time with a sacrifice fly. And again, the Dodgers answered with two runs in the bottom half. Kershaw led off with a double and came home on a single by Justin Turner. Following that, Ross issued back-to-back walks to Gonzalez and Josh Reddick to load the bases. Ross then hit Joc Pederson with a pitch to force in a run and push the Dodgers’ lead to 4-2. The Dodgers tacked on one more run in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out single by Reddick followed by a double from Pederson.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts tried to get Kershaw through the seventh, but it wasn’t happening. The lefty gave up a leadoff single to Danny Espinosa. He seemed to be finding his way out of the inning by striking out Pedro Severino and getting pinch-hitter Chris Heisey to strike out, but he gave up another single to Turner, then walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. Roberts finally relieved Kershaw after 110 pitches, bringing in Pedro Baez. Baez threw one pitch and hit Jayson Werth, forcing in a run. Out came Baez, in came Luis Avilan. Avilan allowed a two-run single to Daniel Murphy, tying the game up at 5-5. Out came Avilan, in came Joe Blanton. Blanton, at long last, ended the inning by striking out Anthony Rendon.

The Dodgers were able to overcome that seventh-inning adversity, breaking through for a run in the bottom of the eighth inning. With two outs, Nationals reliever Blake Treinen hit Andrew Toles with a pitch. He then allowed a single to pinch-hitter Andrew Ethier. Chase Utley came up and singled to right field, bringing Toles home to break the 5-5 tie.

In the top of the ninth, closer Kenley Jansen had his stuff working. He struck out Stephen Drew and Turner, then got Harper to ground out to end the game.

The two teams will take Wednesday off, then play Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday at 5:00 PM EDT at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The starters have yet to be announced.

Freddie Freeman has elbow surgery

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Freddie Freeman‘s elbow began barking in the second half of the season and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September. The Braves rested him for half a minute in the season’s final week but he still played 158 games in 2019. They said he was good to go for the NLDS but he was clearly limited, going 4-for-22 in the Braves’ series loss to the Cardinals.

Today the Braves announced that Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. The team said today that the procedure involved the removal of three fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spur formations.

It’s not clear if more rest down the stretch would’ve made a difference for him — and it’s not clear that the Braves had options at first base for the postseason that were substantially better than even a limited Freeman — but it’s clear that not having Freeman feeling like himself in the heart of the order was a problem.

Freeman is expected to be good-to-go for spring training.