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NLDS: Walker Buehler, Max Muncy lead Dodgers past Nationals; Cardinals hold off late Braves rally

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 3, 2019

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws to a Washington Nationals batter during the first inning of Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws to a Washington Nationals batter during the first inning of Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
Associated Press

Walker Buehler allowed one hit over six scoreless innings, Max Muncy drove in three runs and the Los Angeles Dodgers capitalized on mistakes to beat the Washington Nationals 6-0 in Game 1 of their NL Division Series on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Buehler struck out eight, walked three and retired his final seven batters after earning the start over veterans Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu, whose 2.32 ERA was lowest in the majors this season.

Dodgers rookie Gavin Lux and Joc Pederson slugged pinch-hit solo homers in the eighth.

Nationals first baseman Howie Kendrick had two grounders roll under his glove, the second leading to the Dodgers’ second run in the fifth.

Washington’s Patrick Corbin stumbled through a rocky first inning. He issued four walks, joining Art Reinhart of the St. Louis Cardinals as the only pitchers to walk that many in the first inning they pitched in the postseason.

Reinhart walked four – including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig – in the fifth inning of Game 4 of the 1926 World Series against the Yankees.

Corbin walked three in a row with two outs in the 31-pitch inning. Yan Gomes was charged with a passed ball, too, and Muncy drew a free pass with the bases loaded to put the Dodgers in front.

Corbin gave up two runs – one earned – and three hits in six innings. The left-hander struck out nine and finished with five walks.

Cody Bellinger walked with two outs and scored on an error by Kendrick in the fifth that made it 2-0. Third baseman Anthony Rendon made a diving stop on Chris Taylor’s single down the line, but his throw to first wasn’t in time and Bellinger went to third.

Muncy’s grounder rolled through Kendrick’s legs for an error, scoring Bellinger, and Taylor got thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

In the fourth, Muncy singled leading off. Corey Seager followed with a hit that got past a diving Kendrick at first and rolled into right, sending Muncy to third. But then Corbin settled down and retired the next three batters to end the inning.

The Nationals loaded the bases in the fourth on three walks by Buehler. He escaped when Asdrubal Cabrera tapped the ball back to the mound and Buehler flipped to first to end the inning.

Juan Soto, who had the key hit in the wild-card win over Milwaukee, singled in the second and Trea Turner singled in the ninth off Joe Kelly for the Nationals’ only hits.

It was a quiet offensive night for each team’s MVP contender. Rendon, who hit .319 in the regular season, went 0 for 2 with two strikeouts and a walk. Bellinger, a .305 hitter, struck out twice and walked twice.

It was the fourth shutout in games between the teams this season, and third by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles won its eighth in a row dating to the regular season. Washington’s nine-game winning streak, including the wild-card victory, ended.

Cardinals 7, Braves 6: Marcell Ozuna and Kolten Wong each hit two-run doubles in the ninth inning as St. Louis overcame shaky defense and a wild finish to extend Atlanta’s postseason misery, holding off the Braves in Game 1 in Atlanta.

The Cardinals, back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, fell behind 3-1 – hurt by their normally reliable defense.

But Paul Goldschmidt homered in the eighth, sparking a two-run outburst that tied it 3. In the ninth, the Cardinals blew it open against Braves closer Mark Melancon.

Dexter Fowler and Tommy Edman singled before Goldschmidt walked on four pitches to load the bases with one out. Melancon got ahead of Ozuna with two quick strikes, only to give up a liner just inside the third-base bag that put St. Louis ahead for the first time.

Wong finished off Melancon with another two-run double, this one down the right-field line.

“I loved our at-bats all night,“ Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “I love Marcell’s at-bats. Just calm, letting the game come to him.”

The Braves didn’t go quietly in their half.

Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a two-run homer off Carlos Martinez, and Freddie Freeman added a solo shot. But Martinez got the final two outs to claim a shaky win and put the Cardinals ahead in the best-of-five series going into Game 2 Friday. Jack Flaherty starts for the Cardinals against Mike Foltynewicz.

It was a familiar scenario for the Braves, who have lost nine straight postseason series and are just one away from tying the Chicago Cubs’ record for postseason futility – 10 straight playoff losses. Atlanta has not won a postseason series since 2001, and hasn’t led a series since going up 2-1 on San Francisco in the 2002 NLDS. The Giants won the next two games to advance.

The Braves snapped a 1-all tie in the sixth when Dansby Swanson slashed a one-hopper that bounced off the chest of third baseman Edman. The ball deflected to shortstop Paul DeJong, who had a chance to get a force at second base for the third out. But the throw to Wong was a bouncer, the ball shooting off his glove to allow a second run to score on the play.

Both Edman and DeJong were charged with errors initially, which would have been the Cardinals’ first three-error game of the season. The official scorer changed his ruling, giving Swanson a hit on his wicked shot.

Wong also messed up an attempted backhanded toss for an error in the first, helping the Braves grab a 1-0 lead.

It was totally uncharacteristic for a Cardinals team that led the majors during the regular season with just 66 errors and a .989 fielding percentage.

In the end, it didn’t matter.

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