After getting a three day break, the Dodgers finally got back onto the field tonight against the Cardinals for Game 1 of the NLCS. Zack Greinke went up against Joe Kelly as the Dodgers had their rotation aligned to steal at least a game in St. Louis.
To start things off for the Dodgers tonight, Carl Crawford struck out on three pitches, but Mark Ellis got things started with a sharp single to center. Down in the count, 1-2, Hanley Ramirez was hit by a pitch in the ribs that certainly looked like it stung. With runners on first and second, Kelly uncorked a wild pitch that advanced Ellis and Hanley to second and third.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers would waste a golden opportunity as Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig both struck out to end the top half of the inning. For the Cardinals, their task was Greinke, who showed in his first inning of work that he wasn’t intimidated by the big stage. Matt Carpenter grounded out, which was followed by a three-pitch strikeout to Carlos Beltran.
Matt Holliday had a broken bat liner to Hanley at short and the first inning was over. Both pitchers put up shutout innings in the second and in the third innings, but Crawford lead off the third inning with a double.
Ellis moved him over to third on a groundout as the Dodgers then found themselves with the bases loaded after Hanley and Gonzalez walked. Puig came up in a big spot with the bases loaded and one out, but forced out Crawford at home on a dribbler to Kelly for the second out.
However, just like he did in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Braves, Juan Uribe delivered a two-run single to put the Dodgers ahead, 2-0. In the bottom of the inning, Greinke got David Freese and Pete Kozma to strikeout, but the Cardinals got their first baserunner via a single from Kelly. Carpenter walked and this generation’s “Mr. October”, Carlos Beltran stepped to the plate. In the drivers seat with a 3-1 count, Beltran smacked one to center and Ethier tried to make a spectacular catch, but it fell in for a two-run double, tying the score at two.
Through the fourth, fifth and six innings, the Dodgers and Cardinals saw both starting pitchers settle in. Kelly and Greinke traded scoreless innings as the Dodgers only threatened in the sixth, but Greinke couldn’t score Uribe from second.
For the seventh inning, Matheny went to his bullpen as Randy Choate retired Crawford on one pitch and then brought in Seth Maness to face Mark Ellis and Hanley Ramirez.
After Greinke retired the side in the seventh inning, the Dodgers got a lead off walk from Gonzalez to start the eighth inning and Mattingly made another strange call. He opted to pull Gonzalez in favor of Dee Gordon, who wasn’t going to steal on Molina to begin with and the move severely backfired.
Puig grounded into a fielder’s choice and was erased on a Uribe double play, which left the Dodgers without one of their best hitters in Gonzalez and Michael Young came on to play first base in the bottom of the eighth.
Greinke retired the side yet again and the Cardinals and Dodgers were tied at two heading to the ninth inning. Facing Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, Ethier, A.J. Ellis and pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker were retired and Brian Wilson came on for the Dodgers in the 9th inning.
For the night, Greinke struck out a career postseason high of 10 batters and deserved a better fate as he’s allowed two or fewer runs in 14 consecutive starts.
Against Wilson, the Cardinals saw Beltran and Holliday make outs, but Wilson allowed back-to-back walks to Matt Adams and Molina that brought Jon Jay to the plate. After getting squeezed twice by the home plate umpire, Wilson finally got Jay to fly out to center and the Dodgers and Cardinals headed to extra innings.
In the 10th inning, Crawford one-handed a fly ball to deep right field, but Mark Ellis shot a ball to deep right center and Jay took a terrible angle to it and Ellis wound up on third. Hanley was intentionally walked to get to Young, who replaced Gonzalez in the eighth inning with a chance to put the Dodgers ahead.
After Ronald Belisario retired the seventh, eighth and ninth hitters in the Cardinals lineup and the Dodgers faced John Axford in the 11th inning. Puig struck out and Uribe was robbed by Kozma, but again the Dodgers had another rally going. Ethier walked and AJ Ellis singled as Nick Punto was pressed into pinch-hitting duties.
Down 1-2 in the count, Punto struck out and the Dodgers fell to just 1-9 with runners in scoring position on the night. J.P. Howell came on in the bottom of the 11th to face the top of the Cardinals order.
Howell allowed a lead off single to Carpenter, but retired Beltran and Holliday and that brought up Adams against the lefty. Adams grounded out to Young at first base and the game headed to the top of the 12th.
In the top of the inning, Crawford led off with a single to center and was bunted over by Mark Ellis. After intentionally walking Hanley, the Cardinals got exactly what they’d hoped for, a double play from Young to end the inning.
Chris Withrow came on for the bottom of the 12th and retired the trio of Molina, Jay and Freese in order as the Dodgers had Puig, Uribe and Ethier in the 13th. However, Puig flied out to right, which took him to 0-6 on the night while Uribe and Ethier both made out and the game continued to the bottom of the 13th.
After Kozma was retired, pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso blooped a single in front of Ethier in center field and brought Carpenter up with one on and one out in the 13th. Carpenter walked on four pitches and Mattingly was forced to bring in his closer, Kenley Jansen to face Beltran with the game on the line.
With the count in his favor, Beltran knocked a 3-1 fastball down the right field line and the Cardinals walked off, 3-2 and took Game 1 to lead the series 1-0.
In case you missed it, here’s Don Mattingly talking on Wednesday before the NLCS.