Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer pitches in relief in the eighth inning in game two of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles DodgersWashington Nationals ace Max Scherzer pitches in relief in the eighth inning in game two of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers (AFP Photo/Harry How)
Los Angeles (AFP) - Max Scherzer pitched a solid inning out of the bullpen and reliever Daniel Hudson got out of a bases-loaded ninth inning jam as the Washington Nationals made a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers to even their NL Division Series at one game each.
Scherzer delivered a dominant bullpen performance striking out the side in the eighth for the Nationals, who lost Thursday's best-of-five series-opening game 6-0.
"We had to get one here," said Hudson. "This is a really tough place to play especially in October. So to get out of here with a split is awesome."
The Dodgers are trying to get back to the World Series for a third straight year, after falling in the championship showpiece to the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox last year.
Starter Stephen Strasburg, who was pitching on the shortest rest of his career, also shone by taking a perfect game into the fifth inning while outclassing Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the showdown of superstar pitchers.
He pitched one-run ball for six innings and struck out 10.
Scherzer did everything that was asked of him in the eighth but the Nationals bullpen still had its struggles. Hudson, 32, loaded the bases with two outs before striking out Corey Seager for the save.
"I feel like I had some good stuff tonight," said Hudson. "I was just trying to battle. That's a really good lineup, you really got to feel your way through it."
Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon made one of the best catches of the game in the tense final inning. Rendon chased down Cody Bellinger's pop fly in shallow left field then fell over backwards while making the catch.
"We just couldn't put anything together," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
The Nationals jumped on Kershaw for three runs in the first two innings. Kershaw is now 9-11 with a 4.33 ERA for his career in the playoffs.
- Astros beat Braves -
Elsewhere, Houston pitcher Justin Verlander threw seven scoreless innings and Jose Altuve belted a two-run homer to propel the Astros to a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in game one of their playoff series.
Verlander took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and eventually departed having allowed just one hit and three walks while striking out eight in his 14th career playoff win.
Altuve also lived up to his reputation as a playoff performer, breaking a scoreless tie in the fifth inning when he smacked a fastball from Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow into the left field stands for a home run that also scored Josh Reddick.
"I was looking for a pitch that I can handle," Altuve said. "I was just looking up and I got lucky. He threw it there and I could hit it."
In other NL Division Series action, Mike Foltynewicz threw seven solid shutout innings as the Atlanta Braves rebounded from a loss to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 and even their series at one game each.
Foltynewicz earned his first career playoff win, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out seven batters.
He won the battle between two of the NL's top pitchers over the last two months as Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty took Friday's loss after the Cardinals won game one 7-6.
Foltynewicz was an all-star in 2018 but his game dropped off, and he spent two months earlier this season in the minor leagues. Since being recalled he is 4-1 with a superb 1.73 ERA.
In New York, Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu hit bases-loaded doubles, and the Yankees beat visiting Minnesota 10-4 in game one of the AL Division Series.
The Yankees beat the Twins for the 11th straight time in the postseason, dating back to 2004.