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Ryan Zimmerman, Max Scherzer carry Nationals into NLDS Game 5

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Ryan Zimmerman creamed a three-run homer and Max Scherzer gutted out seven strong innings to lead the Nationals past the Dodgers 6-1 in Game 4 of the NLDS to even the series and force a decisive Game 5.

The Dodgers got on the board first when Justin Turner slugged a solo home run over the bullpen in left field off of Max Scherzer. That would, however, be the extent of the damage the Dodgers’ offense would do against Scherzer.

The Nationals evened things up in the bottom of the third against Rich Hill when Anthony Rendon lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to score Michael A. Taylor. Hill would then walk Juan Soto before being removed from the game. Kenta Maeda got the final out of the third. Hill’s final line: 2 2/3 innings, one run on two hits and four walks with two strikeouts.

Maeda, who has been outstanding thus far in the postseason, tossed a clean fourth, then handed the ball to Julio Urías for the fifth. Trea Turner reached on a leadoff single, then moved to second base on Adam Eaton‘s sacrifice bunt and promptly scored on Rendon’s RBI single to center field to put the Nationals ahead 2-1. The Nationals kept the inning going when Howie Kendrick lined a single to left field. Manager Dave Roberts brought in right-hander Pedro Báez to face veteran Ryan Zimmerman with the platoon advantage, but it didn’t work out. After taking a first-pitch slider for a strike, Zimmerman blasted a high fastball out to center field for a three-run home run, boosting the Nationals lead to 5-1.

The Nationals tacked on one more run in the sixth. Turner hit a ground-rule double to center field which was horribly misplayed by Cody Bellinger. Turner scampered all the way to third base but had to go back to second base because the ball got stuck under the padding attached to the wall. Nevertheless, Turner moved to third base on an Eaton grounder and scored on a Rendon sacrifice fly. Sounds familiar.

Scherzer got into big trouble in the top of the seventh, allowing a one-out single followed by two walks to load the bases. He bounced back, striking out pinch-hitter Chris Taylor on a full count, then getting Joc Pederson to ground out weakly to the right side to end the inning. On 109 pitches across seven innings, Scherzer allowed the lone run on four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts.

Sean Doolittle took over for the start of the eighth for the Nats. With a couple of fly outs and a ground out, the lefty worked a 1-2-3 inning. Dustin May did the same for the Dodgers in the bottom half to quickly send the game into the ninth inning.

Doolittle remained in the game, getting Corey Seager to pop up to begin the ninth. After right-hander David Freese was announced as a pinch-hitter, manager Dave Martinez called on Daniel Hudson out of the bullpen for the final two outs. After giving up an infield single to Freese, Hudson struck out Gavin Lux and got Will Smith to fly out to right field to cement the 6-1 victory and even the series at 2-2.

A winner will be decided on Wednesday in Los Angeles as the Nationals and Dodgers do battle in Game 5 of the NLDS. Stephen Strasburg will square off against Walker Buehler.

Cards’ Yadier Molina says he tested positive for COVID-19

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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina says he’s one of the players on the team who tested positive for COVID-19.

The nine-time All-Star revealed his results Tuesday in a Spanish-language Instagram post. Soon afterward, the Cardinals issued a release naming six of the players who have tested positive.

The others are infielders Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa and Rangel Ravelo along with pitchers Junior Fernandez and Kodi Whitley.

“I am saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place,” Molina said in a release issued by the team. “I will do everything within my power to return as soon as possible for Cardinals fans, the city of St. Louis and my teammates.”

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday that seven players and six staff members had tested positive. At the time, Mozeliak said the people to test positive hadn’t been identified publicly because they had declined to have their names released.

The Cardinals said Tuesday that six players had decided to grant permission to have their names revealed.

“I will approach my healing as I do all other things in my life – with education, commitment, and persistence. I look forward to re-joining the team soon and ask that you respect my privacy at this time,” DeJong said in a statement released by the team.

The outbreak resulted in the postponement of the Cardinals’ scheduled three-game weekend series at Milwaukee as well as a four-game series with Detroit that was supposed to run Monday through Thursday. The Cardinals have played just five games this season and are hoping to return to action Friday hosting the Chicago Cubs.

As of now, the Cardinals who have tested positive have returned home while the rest of the team remains isolated in Milwaukee hotel rooms. Their last game was July 29 at Minnesota.

Mozeliak said Monday that five of the 13 overall members of the Cardinals’ traveling party to test positive were asymptomatic. The other eight had minor symptoms including headaches, coughs, sniffles and low-grade fevers. Mozeliak said none of the eight had required hospitalization.

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