Nationals vs. Dodgers score: Behind seven strong innings from Max Scherzer, Washington forces decisive NLDS Game 5

The Nationals have forced a winner-take-all Game 5 of their NLDS matchup against the Dodgers with 6-1 win on Monday night in Game 4 at Nationals Park. Let's take a look at what went down in Washington D.C.

Scherzer was nails

Max Scherzer was only on two days' rest after his awe-inspiring relief performance in Game 2, so there was some level of question as to what kind of stuff he would have. He wasn't great in the first inning, lacking his command and giving up a home run to Justin Turner. He would, however, settle in and put the team on his back after that. 

He clearly was running out of gas in the seventh, allowing the bases to load. He would battle for a strikeout of Chris Taylor and coax a Joc Pederson groundout before doing his Mad Max intensity stomp off the field to the dugout. 

Scherzer ended with 109 pitches, working seven innings. He didn't allow a run after the first while his team provided him six runs of support. Scherzer struck out seven and walked three, but he gutted his way through an elimination game and his team will fight for its first ever chance in the NLCS. 

Give Mr. Scherzer a standing ovation. 

Rich Hill was not

Dodgers starter Rich Hill didn't make it out of the third inning, thanks to four walks. The bullpen bailed him out in the third, as he departed with the bases loaded and having already allowed a run. There is a day off before Game 5, and due to the deficit, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts avoided his top bullpen arms in the loss.

Still, the Dodgers are facing elimination and that's always scary -- especially for a team that has made the playoffs seven years in a row and still doesn't have any World Series title rings.

Rendon, Zimmerman have big moments

In the regular season, Anthony Rendon was one of baseball's most clutch performers. Here are a sampling of numbers to back that up. 

With runners in scoring position: .365/.463/.667
RISP/two out: .362/.519/.793(!)
Late and close: .328/.430/.612
High leverage: .402/.453/.815

See? If it's a big spot, you want Rendon at the plate. This is why he led the majors with 126 RBI. He drove home the Nationals first run with a sac fly. He drove home the Nationals' second run to take the lead with a one-out single in the fifth.  

Rendon would then score on Ryan Zimmerman's three-run shot that broke the game open:

Rendon tacked on the Nationals' sixth run by putting the ball in play with Trea Turner on third.  

Good signs from Nationals bullpen

The Nats likely don't want to go beyond their big three starters and two relievers in Game 5, and we'll get to that. They should be feeling pretty comfortable right about now with those two relievers. Sean Doolittle looked good in getting his four outs without damage and Daniel Hudson got the final two outs, including a strikeout, and has been excellent since joining the Nats midseason. 

Game 5 coming up

The series goes to the decisive Game 5. The Dodgers have been to the NLCS three straight years while the Nationals have never advanced past the NLDS. But history doesn't really dictate the future (the Cubs would have never won the World Series in 2016, for example). 

The Nationals are set to pitch Stephen Strasburg while Scherzer appears doubtful to come back in a relief role with just one day of rest. Patrick Corbin should be available, though he wasn't exactly confidence-inspiring in Game 3. Doolittle and Hudson will be ready, too. 

The Dodgers are set with Walker Buehler while Clayton Kershaw will be available in relief. Hyun-Jin Ryu probably is, too. 

Buckle up, folks. It's gonna be a fun one. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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