Ballyporeen’s Conor Sweeney has made his presence felt in the opening International Rules game down under.It’s advantage Australia after the first of two tests against Ireland.The hosts will take a 10-point lead into the second game in Perth next Saturday after getting a 63-53 victory in Adelaide this morning. Monaghan’s Conor McManus led the scoring for Ireland with 25 with Michael Murphy of Donegal adding 20.Tipperary’s Conor Sweeney added 3 points – thanks to one over.
“I’m pitching Thursday,” Hill said in the post-game locker room. “It’s a cliché but it’s true – this is what you play for.”The Dodgers have not officially named their starter for Game 5. But at least they have a five-hour cross-country flight to talk about it.“If anyone gives up on this team, they haven’t seen us play a whole lot this year,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said in the afterglow of Tuesday’s comeback.If anyone did give up on the Dodgers, they probably saw them play in the past three postseasons. The same familiar demons came out in the seventh inning Tuesday.Pitching on short rest for the fourth consecutive postseason (the third time in an elimination game) Kershaw didn’t dominate the Nationals’ lineup – only half of it. The top four hitters – Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and (cue ominous music) Daniel Murphy – went 6 for 11 against Kershaw. From Anthony Rendon on down, the Nats were 1 for 15 with seven strikeouts against Kershaw. The top of the order put a run on the board in the first inning as Turner singled, moved to second when Kershaw walked Harper and scored on an RBI single by October nemesis Murphy.It took 27 pitches for Kershaw to get through that first inning – hard labor that was reminiscent of his 101-pitch, five-inning grind in Game 1.But Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first to give the Dodgers the lead and Kershaw pitched like a relieved man. He surrendered another run to the top of the Nats’ order in the third inning (Murphy driving it in with a sacrifice fly) but scored as many himself after leading off the third inning with a double.So he entered the dark alley of a seventh inning in October – where Kershaw’s legacy has been mugged before – with a 5-2 lead.Danny Espinosa – with eight strikeouts in the series including each of his first two at-bats against Kershaw Tuesday – led off with a single. Kershaw retired the next two batters but Turner hit a slow grounder to shortstop Corey Seager whose throw to second base for the force was late.Roberts came out to talk to Kershaw before leaving him in to face Harper, obviously telling Kershaw to empty the tank against his fellow former MVP because he would be his last batter.“You look at who we have and I think that Clayton is our best option,” Roberts said.With shadows creeping out near the pitcher’s mound, the matchup went eight pitches with Harper laying off a full-count fastball (Kershaw’s 110th and final pitch of the game) to draw a walk and load the bases.“Man, that’s what baseball is all about right there – a matter of will,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “Kershaw was on empty. We knew it. They knew it.Man, that’s what baseball is all about right there: a matter of will,” Baker said. “Kershaw was on empty. We knew it. They knew it. Everybody knew it.”Kershaw barely had time to get a drink of water before all three runs had scored. Roberts’ attempt to play the matchups with his relievers worked no better than Don Mattingly’s attempts in postseasons before him. Pedro Baez hit a batter with his one and only pitch. Murphy – of course, Murphy – stroked Luis Avilan’s second pitch into left-center field for a two-run single and that quickly the game was tied.“After all the stuff we’ve been through this season – all the injuries, Kersh going down – we just stayed focused,” Kenley Jansen said of watching the lead disappear. “You could see it in guys’ eyes. When stuff like that happens to the best pitcher in baseball, you just want to stay focused. Just keep that game tied and give our offense a chance.”Joe Blanton made restitution, stranding the go-ahead run on third base and retiring the side in the top of the eighth.Still, the winning rally sprang from infertile ground. With two outs in the eighth, Andrew Toles was hit by a pitch. Pinch-hitter Andre Ethier singled to left field and brought up Utley who was 2 for his first 12 in the series – and looked every bit of it.“As bad as his at-bats might have been earlier in the game, you know what, he just doesn’t scare off and he keeps competing,” Roberts said. “So I’ll take my chance with Chase any time.”The Nationals had loaded their postseason roster with three left-handed relievers for moments like this. But Baker had used two of them and the third, Sammy Solis, was warming up more as a decoy. He had been used in each of the previous two games including 1 2/3 innings in Game 3.“When you look at it, maybe it’s just their day,” Baker said. “We had Solis warming up but we really didn’t want to use Solis unless it was an emergency.”Utley didn’t pose enough of a threat to register as an emergency but he stroked a ground single through the right side of the infield to drive in the winning run – and the sixth Dodgers run to score after there were two outs in an inning.“That’s him. That’s something in his DNA,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “When the stage gets bigger, when the moment gets bigger, he becomes a better player.” LOS ANGELES >> The bullpen the Dodgers had convinced themselves was now a strength let them down in October again. The resiliency forged during a difficult season did not.A three-run lead left behind by Clayton Kershaw disappeared in three pitches after he left the game. But Chase Utley’s two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning brought them a 6-5 lead that did hold up for a series-extending win in Game 4 Tuesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.The best-of-five series will conclude Thursday at Nationals Park. The Dodgers and Nationals will play at 2 p.m. PT if the Cubs-Giants series requires a fifth game. If the Cubs-Giants series ends in four, the Dodgers and Nats will play at 5 p.m.Whether the Dodgers spent their last bullet to get there remains to be seen. Their starting pitcher options for Game 5 consist of Rich Hill and his dangerous blisters or 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias matched up against National League Cy Young Award favorite Max Scherzer. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error