Howie Kendrick hit a tiebreaking grand slam off Joe Kelly in the 10th inning, and the Washington Nationals overcame a three-run deficit with a late rally to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3 Wednesday night and advance to the NL Championship Series against St. Louis.
In the seventh inning, Maui’s Kurt Suzuki exited the game after appearing to get hit in the face by a pitch.
Replay later showed that the 94 mph fastball from Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler first struck his wrist and then hit his face.
Nationals back-up catcher Yan Gomes entered the game to run for Suzuki and take over behind the plate.
Following the game, Suzuki was with the team for the on-field celebration, a positive sign moving forward.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw blew a 3-1 lead by allowing homers to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto on consecutive pitches in the eighth.
The wild-card Nationals open the NLCS at St. Louis on Friday night. The seven-time defending NL West champion Dodgers, who led the NL with 106 wins, remain without a World Series title since 1988.
Adam Eaton walked against Kelly leading off the 10th, Rendon doubled on a drive that lodged in the left field wall and Soto was intentionally walked.
Kendrick fouled off a pitch, then hit a 97 mph fastball just over the wall in center for his second career slam. The other one was a game-ending, 11th-inning drive against San Francisco in August 2017.
Daniel Hudson got the win, retiring Will Smith on a drive to the right field warning track with one on and one out in the ninth, then getting Chris Taylor on a liner to center.
Sean Doolittle pitched the 10th for the Nationals.
The Nationals/Montreal Expos franchise won a postseason series for only the second time, the first since the Expos beat Philadelphia in a 1981 Division Series caused by the midseason players’ strike.