LOS ANGELES — The winningest regular season in Los Angeles Dodgers history was followed by a loss in a National League Division Series, as former Dodger Howie Kendrick hit a 10th-inning grand slam to give the Washington Nationals a 7-3 victory Wednesday evening at Dodger Stadium.
“Obviously very, very, disappointing is probably an understatement,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, whose team won a franchise-record 106 games in the regular season. “But I think it’s just one of those things that we got beat and just disappointed for everyone.”
Roberts said he would have “no problem” if the blame for the loss falls on him.
Clayton Kershaw after he allowed two HRs on consecutive pitches to raise his postseason ERA to 4.43 pic.twitter.com/kBUJIdGAaY
— Troy Hirsch (@troyhirschfox5) October 10, 2019
“I feel that my job is to put guys in the best position to have success and if it doesn’t work out, there’s always going to be second-guessing and I got no problem wearing the brunt of that,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run homer by their second batter, Max Muncy, and increased their lead to 3-0 on Kike Hernandez’s second-inning homer in the decisive game of the best-of-five series.
However, the Dodgers were held to three hits over the final 10 innings as they lost the series, three games to two.
The Nationals tied the score on home runs on consecutive pitches by Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto on consecutive pitches off Clayton Kershaw in the eighth inning.
Roberts took out starter Walker Buehler after he walked Trea Turner on his 117th pitch to put runners on first and second with two outs in the seventh and replaced him with Kershaw.
“Once he walked Turner … I thought Walker had had enough,” Roberts said. “I thought he emptied the tank. So to get Clayton to get us out of that spot, I felt good about it.”
Kershaw struck out Adam Eaton to end the inning, but allowed home runs to the first two batters he faced in the eighth.
Kenta Maeda relieved Kershaw, striking out the next three batters before a sellout crowd announced at 54,159.
Roberts pinch-hit for Maeda in the bottom of the eighth. Joe Kelly took the mound for the Dodgers in the ninth and retired the side in order.
Kelly walked Eaton, the leadoff hitter in the 10th, then allowed a ground-rule double to the next batter, Rendon. Soto was walked intentionally to load the bases.
Roberts said he kept Kelly in the game because “I just felt that Joe had a good chance to” get Kendrick to hit a ground ball and then potentially have Kenley Jansen face Ryan Zimmerman.
The 36-year-old Kendrick who was hitless in his four at-bats Wednesday before hitting an 0-1 fastball for the third postseason home run of his career. The others came with the Los Angeles Angels in Game 3 of the 2009 American League Championship Series and with the Dodgers in Game 3 of a National League Division Series.
Daniel Hudson, the fourth of five Washington pitchers, pitched a shutout ninth for the victory. Sean Dolittle retired the side in order in the 10th to end the game and give the Nationals their first victory in a postseason series. They had lost four division series, three in Game 5, including in 2016 to the Dodgers.
Kelly, the fourth of five Dodger pitchers, was charged with the loss.
Washington will face the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series, which will begin Friday in St. Louis. The Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves, 13-1, Wednesday in Atlanta to win their division series, three games to two.
Buehler allowed one run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings, struck out seven, walked three and hit a batter. Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, struck out seven and walked one.
Joc Pederson led off the first for the Dodgers with what was initially ruled a home run, but the call was overturned following an umpire review and it was determined to be a ground-rule double. Muncy followed by hitting a 3- 1 fastball for his third homer of the series.
Soto singled in Rendon, who doubled, in the sixth for Washington’s first run.
The Dodgers have won seven consecutive National League West titles but have not won the World Series since 1988. They lost the World Series in each of the past two seasons. The Dodgers have never reached the World Series in three consecutive seasons.