LOS ANGELES – Howie Kendrick hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the 10th inning and the Washington Nationals, boosted by a stunning rally against Clayton Kershaw, beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3 Wednesday night and advanced to the NL Championship Series against St. Louis.
Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto homered on consecutive pitches to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the eighth against Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner. Soto had started the comeback from a 3-0 hole with an RBI single in the sixth off starter Walker Buehler, then hit a drive of Kershaw.
Adam Eaton walked against Joe Kelly leading off the 10th, Rendon doubled on a drive that lodged in the left-field wall and Soto was intentionally walked.
Kendrick, 4 for 19 with one RBI in the series, fouled off a pitch and then hit a fastball over the wall in dead center for his second career slam. The other was a game-ending, 11th-inning drive against San Francisco in August 2017. Center fielder Cody Bellinger chased the ball all the way to the wall, putting his arms up against the fence as he ran out of room.
“It was electric. Probably the best moment of my career,” said the 36-year-old Kendrick, a 14-year big league veteran who played for the Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels. “We never gave up. The city had faith in us. The fans had faith in us. We believed in ourselves, everybody came through for us.”
Dodgers fans started exiting as the bases emptied.
The wild-card Nationals open the NLCS at the Cardinals on Friday night. Washington overcame a 19-31 start, finished 93-69 and then rallied from a 3-0, eighth-inning deficit to beat Milwaukee 4-3 in the NL wild-card game and bounced back from down 2-1 in the best-of-five series against the Dodgers.
“Oh, man, keep fighting,” Rendon said. “I think that’s the story of maybe this organization.”
The seven-time defending NL West champion Dodgers, who led the NL with 106 wins, remain without a World Series title since 1988.
“Disappointing is probably an understatement,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Cardinals 13, Braves 1
In Atlanta, with a stunning outburst their first time up, the St. Louis Cardinals scored 10 runs for the biggest opening inning in postseason history and dealt the Atlanta Braves another playoff heartbreak with a rout in decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5