Stephen Strasburg's seven near-flawless innings combined with Michael A. Taylor's grand slam enabled Washington to extend its season with a 5-0 win on Wednesday in Game 4 of the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile.
Gio Gonzalez will start for the hosts in Game 5 against Chicago's Kyle Hendricks when the series shifts back to Nationals Park on Thursday night. Here are the three keys to the Nationals extending their World Series hopes:
1. It starts with Trea: Nationals shortstop Trea Turner displayed his tremendous value on Wednesday night, when he made a few nifty defensive plays and snapped an 0-for-13 NLDS skid with a leadoff double in the third inning. His speedy presence may have distracted Jake Arrieta and catcher Willson Contreras, who didn't block a wild pitch that allowed Turner to reach third base and score the opening run on Addison Russell's two-out error.
2. Patience with Hendricks: After the deceptive Hendricks painted the corners and kept the Nats off balance in Game 1, manager Dusty Baker said he felt his club was too passive on fastballs early in the count. Hendricks can frustrate lineups with sound command and a deep repertoire, but he doesn't have overpowering stuff. It will be important for Washington to prevent him from getting ahead in counts by aggressively attacking his fastballs in the zone. The Nationals showed impressive patience in Wednesday's win and need to keep it up in the series' decisive game.
3. Keeping Bryzzo quiet: Washington needs to stick with the sound approach it's had against Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs' sluggers who combined to go 0-for-7 with six strikeouts and a walk in Game 4. Bryant's four-strikeout game was just the third he's had as a Major Leaguer, with the first two happening during his rookie season in 2015. Bryant, the reigning NL Most Valuable Player Award winner, is 3-for-15 in the series with nine strikeouts and one extra-base hit, a double.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.