Dodgers 1 6 0
Cardinals 2 10 1
WP- Lynn (15-7)
LP- Rodriguez (0-1)
S- Motte (34)
Tonight was the first game of a huge series for both the Dodgers and Cardinals. Deep in a race for the second Wild Card spot, both teams are also fighting off the surging Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers along with the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates for the chance to play in the one-game Wild Card playoff. Going into tonight’s game, all the aforementioned teams were only up to three games back of St. Louis for that new yet coveted slot. It seems as if a dog fight to the end will be played out, and additional tie breaker playoff games even seems possible. For the Dodgers, a split of this four-game series would do them no good. They really need to win the series for any traction to be made in their newly focused goal of clinching that Wild Card spot. The Dodgers are just sputtering along now, and once again they could only muster one lonely run off six sporadic hits in tonight’s loss. The Cardinals were also hard-pressed to score through most of the game, but Don Mattingly’s questionable pitching management allowed for Paco Rodriguez to remain in the game too long for the seventh inning resulting in another run for the Red Birds. I like Paco so far, but it boggles my mind that Mattingly let him pitch again in the seventh when we have a full bullpen. To let a pitcher who has only a few professional innings under his belt be put in a prolonged outing in a pennant race game is just a head scratcher. Rodriguez subsequently picked up his first big league loss while Cardinals journeyman Lance Lynn secured his 15th win on the season.
Josh Beckett retires Jon Jay on a groundout to first to start things off in the first inning. Matt Carpenter hits a slow roller to second, and Matt Holliday hits a fly ball to Matt Kemp in center. That’s a nice start by Beckett!
Mark Ellis leads off with a single to right off Lance Lynn in the home half of the first. Andre Ethier, who’s batting second tonight, draws a walk. Matt Kemp hits into a double play, and Ellis advances to third on the play. Adrian Gonzalez hits a rainbow double to the gap in left center and Ellis scores! The Dodgers take a 1-0 lead. Hanley Ramirez strikes out looking to end the frame.
In the second with one out, Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran, and Skip Schumaker hit three consecutive singles. The Cardinals quickly cash in the tying run making it a 1-1 game. Daniel Descalso pops out, and Lance Lynn strikes out to end the inning and the damage is held to one run.
Josh Beckett returns the favor by pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the third inning.
Beckett hits what looks like a one-hop single to right field, but Beltran fires to first to get him out on a 9-3 put out. Mark Ellis hits a cracked bat little roller, but Carpenter makes a tough play to throw him out at first. Ethier grounds out, and the Dodgers are shut down in order again.
Beckett gets into trouble again in the top of the fourth. With one out Molina collects his second single of the game. Beltran walks, and Schumaker also gets his second hit off Beckett to load the bases up. Descalso strikes out on a foul tip for the important second out. Beckett strikes out Lynn, and the Cards leave the bases loaded! That inning seemed very Dodgers-like I must say.
Matt Kemp leads off the bottom of the fourth with a single. While Adrian Gonzalez is busy swinging away on strike three at the plate, Matt Kemp is mowed down by Molina at second. And just like that, there are two outs. Hanley Ramirez strikes out for the second time of the night.
Beckett pitches a very good 1-2-3 inning in the fifth as he strikes out both the Matts. Carpenter and Holliday both whiff against the right-hander.
Victorino leads-off the bottom of the fifth with a single to left field. Luis Cruz strikes out on a Lynn sinker down and in. A.J. Ellis flies out. The inning concludes with a Beckett strikeout, and the Dodgers strand Victorino.
Allen Craig leads-off the sixth with a double to left. On a single by Molina (his third hit of the game), Craig is called out when the batted ball hits him when he foolishly tried to advance to third. With Beltran at the plate, a wild pitch by Beckett allows Molina to move to second. They intentionally walk Beltran. That’s going to be all for Josh Beckett, as Don Mattingly goes to the bullpen to bring in Paco Rodriguez to pitch to Skip Schumaker. Schumaker hits into a force out. Descalso flares a fly ball to left, but Victorino is there to make the third out as the Cards fail to score.
Josh Beckett pitched 5 1/3 innings allowing 1 run on 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts on 98 pitches.
Andre Ethier singles with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Kemp grounds into a force out. Gonzalez draws a two-out walk. Then of course Hanley Ramirez hits a deep fly ball to the warning track in center, and Jon Jay is there. The Dodgers strand two more runners.
Shane Robinson leads-off the seventh inning with a walk from Paco. Jon Jay pops out to Paco on a bunt attempt. We know how those bunt failures feel, St. Louis. Carpenter singles up the middle. Mattingly goes to the bullpen again to bring in Ronald Belisario to pitch to Holliday with runners at first and second and one out. Holliday hits a line drive to Matt Kemp for the second out. Allen Craig proceeds to single by both diving Ellis and Gonzalez to right field, and Robinson scores giving the Cards a 2-1 lead.
Edward Mujica, a righty, will pitch the bottom of the seventh for the Cards in relief of Lynn. Victorino strikes out. Luis Cruz reaches safely on the fielding error by third baseman Carpenter, and Dee Gordon will pinch-run for him. Of course Molina throws a laser down to second to get Dee trying to steal. That throw from Molina was something else. As good as it gets by a catcher. A.J. grounds out, and the inning is quickly over.
Lance Lynn pitched 6 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts on 82 pitches.
Carlos Beltran leads-off the eighth inning with a double off Belisario. Matt Kemp makes a great catch on a Descalso fly ball that’s hit over his head for the second out. That saved a run. Beltran tags up and moves to third. David Freese, last year’s World Series M.V.P., grounds out to short while breaking his bat for the last out.
Mitchell Boggs will pitch the bottom of the eighth for the Red Birds. Bobby Abreu grounds out to second. Mark Ellis also grounds out. Sensing a pattern here? Ethier flies out as the Dodgers go down quietly in order.
Randy Choate is in for the top of the ninth inning. Jay walks to start things off. Jay moves to second on a groundout by Carpenter. They walk Holliday intentionally. Brandon League is then brought in to try to clean up this mess left by Choate. League does his job as he induces a groundball double play from Craig to end the inning.
Jason Motte, right-hander, will try to shut the door on the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth. Kemp grounds out. Gonzo pops out in foul territory. Hanley Ramirez doubles off the center field wall. That’s the first Dodger to get to second base since the first inning. Victorino makes the final out on a fly ball to left field.
The Dodgers sink to 74-70, and they are now 2 games back of the Cardinals for that second Wild Card spot. They also drop to 7 1/2 games back of the Giants in the NL West standings since San Francisco had a day off. 18 games remain on the regular schedule.