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Nationals salvage game, series from Dodgers in 14 innings

LaRoche helps Nationals survive blown saves, Dodgers
LaRoche helps Nationals survive blown saves, Dodgers
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers finished a potential NLCS preview on Sept. 3. After the Nationals took the first game of this three-game series in Los Angeles, then got shut down by Clayton Kershaw in the second, it looked like they had the rubber match in hand twice. However, the Dodgers pushed the series finale to 14 innings and over five hours of playing time, until the Nationals finally broke free for an 8-5 victory and a series win.

Los Angeles actually blew the win first, as it came into the ninth with a 2-0 lead and then gave it up on a pinch-hit Adam LaRoche home run and a Denard Span RBI single. Then it was Washington's turn to blow a save, thanks to a fielding error from Jayson Werth. The next two innings were uneventful until LaRoche struck again with a two-run single in the 12'th.

Carl Crawford kept the game going in the bottom of the 12'th with a two-run blast, extending what would turn out to be the second longest game in Dodger Stadium history. As such, when the Nationals went ahead again on a LaRoche fielder's choice and an Asdrubal Cabrera home run, it didn't seem like a lot for the Dodgers to overcome. But aside from an Adrián González single, Los Angeles had nothing else to delay Washington's victory any longer.

With this grand finale, the Nationals and Dodgers lived up to their billing as the two best teams in the NL, even with the St. Louis Cardinals coming on strong and with the San Francisco Giants refusing to yield the NL West. It would still surprise no one if Washington and Los Angeles met again in October, whether it's in the divisional round or whether the pennant is on the line.

The Nationals only really have home field advantage left to play for until then, as they kept their lead in the NL East at seven games and only have to face teams from that weak division the rest of the month. As for the Dodgers, their lead over the Giants stayed at two games, giving them a lot more to sweat out in September. Therefore, a long and bitter loss like this could stick out like a sore thumb later on.