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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.

Mike Trout voted 2019 American League Most Valuable Player

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The Baseball Writers Association of America voted Angels outfielder Mike Trout the Most Valuable Player in the American League for the 2019 season. He received 17 of 30 first-place votes, earning the third AL MVP Award of his career.

Trout, 28, missed the final three weeks of the season due to a foot injury, but his numbers were still strong enough to overcome the competition. He led the majors with a .438 on-base percentage and a 185 adjusted OPS, and led the AL with a .645 slugging percentage and 1.083 OPS. He also slugged 45 home runs, knocked in 104 runs, scored 110 runs, and stole 11 bases in 600 plate appearances. FanGraphs also gave him an edge over the competition in WAR at 8.6.

Trout, who also won the award in 2014 and ’16, is the third Angel to snag the hardware, joining Don Baylor (1979) and Vladimir Guerrero Sr. (2004). He is the [NUMBER] player to win three MVP awards, joining Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Álex Rodríguez, Stan Musial, Roy Campanella, Mike Schmidt, Albert Pujols, and Barry Bonds. Bonds is the only player to have won the award more than three times, winning a whopping seven MVP awards.

Alex Bregman finished in a close second place followed by Marcus  Semien, DJ LeMahieu, and Xander Bogaerts. Also receiving votes were Matt Chapman, George Springer, Mookie Betts, Nelson Cruz, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Rafael Devers, Jorge Polanco, Austin Meadows, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, Gleyber Torres, Eddie Rosario, José Abreu, Max Kepler, J.D. Martinez, Yoán Moncada, Charlie Morton, Matt Olson, and Jorge Soler.