Washington Nationals buck sluggish start to blast LA Dodgers in Game Two and level NLDS series
Jayson Werth and the Nationals found their groove late after facing an early three-run deficit. AP

WASHINGTON — Little-used Jose Lobaton changed the complexion of the Washington Nationals' Major League Baseball playoff series with one big swing.

Getting a rare chance to play because of starting catcher Wilson Ramos' late-September injury, backup Lobaton hit a three-run homer through a strong wind to erase an early deficit Sunday (Monday, Manila time). Daniel Murphy provided two RBIs, and Washington's bullpen threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings, leading the Nationals past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2 in a rain-postponed Game 2 to even the NL Division Series at 1-all.

"I've got to try to do something for the team," said Lobaton, who had one hit off a left-handed pitcher all season before connecting with a curveball that stayed up from LA lefty Rich Hill with two outs in the fourth inning.

After dropping Game 1, the Nationals trailed 2-0 when Hill allowed No. 8 hitter Lobaton to put the hosts ahead for good.

What made his big bop all the more surprising was that it went over the wall in left, where wind that topped 30 mph was blowing in much of the afternoon.

"When he hit it, there was a bunch of people in the dugout who were, like, cussing, because we didn't think he could get it out. All kinds of expletives were being thrown around," Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth said. "And then it snuck over for us. That was the game, right there."

Nationals slugger Bryce Harper's take?

"If Mother Nature wanted to keep it in the yard, then I guess she would have," the 2015 NL MVP said, "but the baseball gods overran her, I guess."

Murphy has been Washington's best hitter all season, considered a top contender for league MVP honors this year. Indeed, fans chanted those three letters after each hit as he went 3 for 3, including RBI singles in the fifth and seventh.

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Five relievers made it stand up, with Mark Melancon working around a single in the ninth — the lone hit allowed by Washington's relievers — to earn the save.

Blake Treinen went 1 1/3 innings and got the win, while lefties Marc Rzepczynski, Sammy Solis and Oliver Perez combined for seven outs as manager Dusty Baker mixed and matched his 'pen just right.

The best-of-five series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Monday afternoon, with Game 4 there on Tuesday, creating an unusual three-consecutive-days setup in the playoffs, thanks to the loss of a travel day.

"This was pretty much a must-win game for us," Werth said. "Definitely don't want to head West down two."

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