Nationals beat Dodgers to level MLB playoff series


Washington (AFP)

Jose Lobaton belted a three-run homer and Daniel Murphy drove in two runs as the Washington Nationals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2 on Sunday to knot their Major League Baseball playoff series at one game apiece.

Lobaton went deep on a curveball from Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill in the fourth inning to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead.

He smacked the two-out shot into the Dodgers' bullpen in left field after Murphy drew a leadoff walk and Danny Espinosa was hit by a pitch with two outs.

Lobaton, starting because regular catcher Wilson Ramos is out for the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament, last hit a post-season home run in 2013, when he was playing for Tampa Bay.

His blast put the Nationals ahead for the first time in the series.

Murphy singled in a run in the fourth to hasten the departure of Hill, who struck out seven while giving up six hits and four runs in 4 1/3 innings. Murphy drove in another run in the fifth.

On the second pitch of the game, Washington starter Tanner Roark threw a pitch near the head of Corey Seager.

Seager responded by driving a 3-0 pitch into the right field seats for a solo homer and a 1-0 Dodgers lead.

Washington's other run also came against Roark, who lasted 4 1/3 innings.

But Washington's bullpen made sure their advantage stood up.

Left-handed relief pitcher Sammy Solis retired Adrian Gonzalez on a fly to left to end the top of the sixth with two Dodgers runners on base.

Winning pitcher Blake Treinen retired all four batters he faced, lefty Oliver Perez retired both batters he saw in the eighth and closer Mark Melancon pitched the ninth for the save.

The contest was postponed from Saturday, so the teams will have a quick turnaround to game three in Los Angeles on Monday.

The winners of the series will face either the Chicago Cubs or San Francisco Giants for a World Series berth. The Cubs take a 2-0 series lead into game three in San Francisco on Monday.

There was another rain delay on Sunday, as the American League game between the Cleveland Indians and Red Sox in Boston was washed out.

That means the Indians, up 2-0, had to wait until Monday to try to close out that series.

Elsewhere in the American League, the Toronto Blue Jays were aiming to finish off the Rangers at home on Sunday night.