Nationals rally, stun Dodgers with Howie Kendrick’s 10th-inning grand slam to win first-ever series

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LOS ANGELES — The Washington Nationals’ postseason history added a fresh chapter Wednesday night.

Howie Kendrick’s grand slam in the top of the 10th inning broke a 3-3 tie and the Nationals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3 in the decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series.

It is the first time the Nationals – or Expos before them – have won a postseason series. Ever.

They did it just like they had all year. It was their motto after a 19-31 start to the season. The Nationals stayed in the fight .

In the top of the eighth inning, with three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayon Kershaw pitching in relief for the Dodgers, Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto hit solo homers, tied the game at 3-3 and sent Kershaw heading to the showers.

In the 10th inning, Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly – pitching his second inning – loaded the bases with no outs. On an 0-1 fastball, Kendrick went to long to dead center field, stunning the capacity crowd at Dodger Stadium.

Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg gave up two homers and three runs in the first two innings, but kept the Dodgers scoreless for the rest of his six-inning stint while keeping his team in the game.

The Nationals will face the St. Louis Cardinals Friday a in Game 1 of the best-of-seven NLCS – the first since 2015 that will not involve the Dodgers.

Turning point

When Dave Roberts sent Clayton Kershaw out for the top of the eighth inning. (With two outs in the seventh, Kershaw struck out Adam Eaton, the only batter he faced, on three pitches. No such luck in the 8th.)

Anthony Rendon hit Kershaw’s second pitch into the left field bleachers for a solo home run. Juan Soto followed that up by belting the first pitch he saw from Kershaw over the right-center field wall.

Just like that, the game was tied at 3 3 all.

Scary moment

Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki went down in the batter’s box after a 94-mph fastball from Walker Buehler hit in his the wrist and apparently hit him in the head in the top of the seventh inning. Dodger Stadium turned eerily quiet and Buehler looked concerned as medical personnel tended to Suzuki. But Suzuki left the field under his own power. 

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