WASHINGTON — Sometimes, your great pitching duels are like Bumgarner-Syndergaard Wednesday night. Sixteen combined innings, no runs. Masterful.
Sometimes, you get what happened at Nationals Park Friday in Game 1 of the NLDS between the Nationals and Dodgers.
Max Scherzer vs. Clayton Kershaw. Eleven combined innings, seven runs. Not masterful.
No, the aces here didn’t dominate like Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard did in the Mets’ wild-card game loss to the Giants.
Kershaw continued his history of uneven postseason performances by giving up three runs in five innings. But Scherzer was worse — two home runs and four runs in six innings — and the Dodgers’ bullpen threw four shutout innings in a 4-3 victory.
“When the starters go five, we never complain about it,” said closer Kenley Jansen, who got the final five outs to save the win for Kershaw. “We just go out and do our job.”
Scherzer, who was 20-7 with a 2.96 ERA in the regular season, gave up a solo shot to Corey Seager, the second batter of the game.
Chase Utley had an RBI single in the third to give Los Angeles a 2-0 lead. One batter later, Justin Turner smacked a two-run homer to left over the leaping try of Jayson Werth to make it 4-0.
Both home runs came on the first pitch.
“They were first-ball jumping him early,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.
Said Turner: “Corey goes out there, jumps all over the first pitch and hits a homer, and I think that kind of set the tone for us.”
Kershaw, who went 12-4 with a 1.69 ERA in an injury-plagued year, struck out the side in the first and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second.
But after being staked to that 4-0 lead, Kershaw allowed the Nationals to pull to within a run. Anthony Rendon singled in a pair of runs in the third and Trea Turner hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
“We had him on the ropes a couple of times there,” Baker said. “The big hit just escaped us.”
Kershaw was gone after five, and the Dodgers bullpen took it from there. Rookie manager Dave Roberts used four relievers, with Jansen even getting an at-bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth (he struck out).
“That’s sort of been our formula all year long,” Roberts said. “Obviously, tonight was not the start we had envisioned for Clayton.”
But he won anyway, even though Baker pulled out all the stops in an unsuccessful comeback attempt. Baker had six position players on his bench and used them all, including three pinch hitters in a row in the eighth. The second, Clint Robinson doubled with two outs and was replaced by pinch runner Michael Taylor. With two outs, Jansen face pinch hitter Chris Heisey. The free-agent-to-be righthander struck him out on a borderline 3-and-2 pitch to send the game to the ninth as the red-clad home crowd howled.
The Nationals went down 1-2-3 in the ninth.
Game 2 is Saturday at 4 p.m. with Tanner Roark of the Nationals facing former Yankee and Long Island Duck Rich Hill.