Dodgers get one back against Cardinals
Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez hits an RBI single against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Oct. 13, 2013. (JAYNE KAMIN-ONCEA/USA Today)
The St. Louis Cardinals may have stolen a game or two at Busch Stadium but Monday night at Chavez Ravine the Dodgers gave them a little payback.
The Cardinals, a team built on solid fundamentals and holding a 2-0 death grip in the series, came out with an indecisive and hesitant performance in the field and were shoddy on the bases. Thanks to their largesse they allowed the Dodgers to come up with a 3-0 victory and get back into the series.
The Cards still lead the best-of-seven NLCS 2-1 and have history on their side but if they play as poorly as they did last night in the coming games they could see the series slip away just like last year when they lost to San Francisco after building a 3-1 lead.
The Cardinals offence also has to perk up as they have been held to six hits in their past two games.
“Hopefully tomorrow we can hit a little more and put some runs on the board,” Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran said. “We have to find a way.
“So far this series is about pitching and the guys that pitch the best are going to be moving on.”
Needing a big effort from their starter, the Dodgers got one.
Rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu had made just the one post-season start and it was a shaky one as against Atlanta in the NLDS he lasted three innings in a no-decision where he allowed four runs on six hits.
This night, though, he was under control and in charge right from the start and blanked the Cards on three hits over seven strong innings.
Despite so much being on the line for the Dodgers it was the Cardinals that looked unsure and off-kilter.
The Cards are a team that rarely beats itself but they fell behind 2-0 in the fourth thanks to a self-inflicted wound and then helped snuff out a rally in the fifth with terrible base running.
It wasn’t very characteristic of how we played all season,” Matheny said. “Our team has done a great job of improving defensively. We just had a lot of balls in the air tonight that hit the ground that normally don’t.
“We’re a better club than this.”
In the killer fourth inning, Mark Ellis opened with a drive to right centre that saw centre fielder Jon Jay and Beltran converge on the ball. It was the classic case of ‘I’ve got it, you take it’ and when both pulled up, the ball fell to the ground for a double.
It would lead to a two-run inning.
“I was playing down the line and when I saw the ball I was trying to back him up,” Beltran said of Jay. “I think he anticipated tat I would catch it. It’s a ball that should be caught.”
That miscue got the crowd into it big time.
One out later the Dodgers, who were shut out 1-0 in Game 2 in St. Louis, went in front on a line drive down the right field line that Adrian Gonzalez hustled into a RBI double.
After the second out, Yusiel Puig then came to the plate carrying an 0-for-11 in the series with seven strikeouts including his last five at-bats.
This time, however, he hit one on the screws, an opposite-field drive to right. Puig Cadillac-ed it at the plate as he thought he hit it out and tossed both his hands into the air just like Roberto Alomar after his dramatic home run in the 1992 ALCS against Oakland.
The ball, though, struck the wall and caromed by Beltran allowing Puig to recover, put it into high gear and gun it to third for a RBI triple.
If Ellis’ fly is caught no runs score. But give the Dodgers credit, when they caught a break they capitalized.
“You have to perform and get it done,” Beltran said of his team’s play. “Today we didn’t get it done.”
Perhaps Puig’s hot-dogging fired up the Cardinals as they came out in the fifth with a leadoff single by David Freese and a following single by Matt Adams.
At that point Freese was replaced by Daniel Descalso after Freese developed right calf tightness.
Jay followed by slicing a ball to left.
Descalso made a brutal misread and was racing to third believing it would fall in but Carl Crawford came in to make the routine catch. Descalso was caught so far off second that even the weak-armed Crawford could throw him out for the double play.
Pete Kozma ended the inning by grounding into a fielder’s choice.
L.A. added a run in the eighth on a RBI single by Hanley Ramirez who played despite a cracked rib.
In his post-season career Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright had gone 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 15 appearances including six starts. Against the Pirates in the LDS he was 2-0.
But thanks to his teammates miscues he was hung with his first postseason loss.
History is still riding with the Cardinals as in a best-of-seven NLCS, teams that took a 2-0 lead have won nine of 10 series.
But they have to play better than they did on Monday if they hope to close it out.