LOS ANGELES -- Before the Nationals piled on late, their 8-3 National League Division Series Game 3 victory not yet safely locked away, Washington unearthed an opportunity in the third inning Monday. Looking anything but sleep-deprived following a cross-country flight and quick turnaround, Trea Turner singled and scampered home on Jayson Werth's double. Bryce Harper singled home Werth and stole a base.
Just like that, the Nationals were rallying. But the complexion of the game did not truly change until Anthony Rendon parked a Kenta Maeda pitch half a dozen rows deep in left-center field, sending the Nats well on their way to a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT Tuesday on FS1.
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"[I'm] just trying to stay within myself, trying not to do too much and just trying to put the barrel on the ball," said Rendon, who has four RBIs through three games this postseason, "like I've been taught ever since I was younger."
While it was the Nationals' four-run rally off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth that sucked the air out of Dodger Stadium, Rendon's blast in the third inning transformed the game's outlook, capping a different four-run parade that blended power and speed.
Turner showcased the speed aspect first, opening things with a single up the middle against Maeda -- a National League Rookie of the Year candidate who stranded the bases loaded in the first inning, then cruised through a perfect second. When Werth lined a Maeda fastball down the right-field line, Turner raced all the way home, sliding headfirst to evade Yasmani Grandal's tag. Two batters later, Harper plated Werth with the go-ahead run, showcasing his own wheels to steal second base and take third on an error.
The Nationals never trailed again thanks to Rendon, who blasted a middle-in Maeda fastball a projected 432 feet, according to Statcast™.
"I thought I had my stuff today," Maeda said through an interpreter. "But they executed. They really executed today."
"Kenta was missing, getting behind, and some fastballs leaked back over the plate," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "They made him pay."
Considering how significant both bullpens have been this series, such early runs have assumed more significance than in the regular season. After the Dodgers jumped out to a 4-3 lead early in Game 1, for example, both offenses shut down completely from there. Two days later, the Nationals held Los Angeles completely in check after the third.
That's been a trend throughout October, which has seen starting pitchers struggle and bullpens thrive across the country. So when Turner, Harper, Rendon and the Nationals plated four runs in the third inning Monday to take their first lead, they understood how significant that was.
"Runs are at a premium in the postseason, whether it's the first inning or it's the eighth inning," second baseman Daniel Murphy said. "We put up the four-spot, and then their bullpen was really good."