With their season on the line, the Dodgers turned to Zack Greinke to help send the NLCS back to St. Louis after Ricky Nolasco couldn’t tie the series at two last night.
Greinke was opposed by Cardinals starter Joe Kelly, who turned the tide in the series after his first inning Game 1 fastball fractured Hanley Ramirez’s eighth rib. To start things off Matt Carpenter blooped a single into left and Carlos Beltran walked on four pitches and Greinke was getting himself into trouble.
Matt Holliday followed in Carpenter’s footsteps and blooped a single into center and the Cardinals had the bases loaded with nobody out. However, Greinke battled back to get Matt Adams to strike out and Yadier Molina grounded into an inning-ending double play and got out of the jam.
In the bottom of the first, Carl Crawford saw eight pitches before grounding out and Mark Ellis lined out sharply to shortstop for the second out. Hanley Ramirez, who was back in the lineup after getting pulled in last night’s game, struck out looking, on a pitch that was called a ball on the previous pitch to end the first inning.
Greinke retired the Cardinals in order in the second inning and Adrian Gonzalez led off the Dodgers bottom of the second. Gonzalez roped a single down the right field line and Yasiel Puig followed suit and it was first and second, nobody out.
Juan Uribe got into the action with an RBI single up the middle, his third RBI off Kelly in the series. After A.J. Ellis fouled out to third and Puig moved over to third, Greinke brought home another and it was 2-0 Dodgers.
However, Greinke gave the runs back in the top of the third as Beltran had an RBI triple and was quickly brought home on a double by Holliday. Things could’ve been worse as Molina grounded into his second double play with runners on first and third and the Dodgers and Cardinals were tied at two through three.
In the third inning, Mark Ellis singled to lead off the inning, but Hanley grounded into a double play and took out his anger on a water cooler in the dugout. However, Gonzalez smacked a solo home run for the first Dodger homer in the entire NLCS and the Dodgers regained the lead, 3-2.
Kelly and Greinke retired the side in the fourth inning and after the Cardinals went in order again in the fifth, the Dodgers put another run on the board, courtesy of Crawford. Crawford deposited a Kelly fastball to deep right field for his fourth home run of the postseason and all four came with the two strikes.
In the sixth, Greinke continued to roll, retiring the side with 93 pitches through six innings. The Cardinals went to their bullpen in the bottom half of the inning as Randy Choate came on and retired lefties Gonzalez and Ethier. Former Cardinals closer Edward Mujica came on to face Puig and retired him on a ground ball to David Freese at third to end the inning.
It was business as usual from Greinke in the seventh inning as he had another 1-2-3 inning and after 104 pitches, Greinke’s afternoon looked to be done with the Dodgers lead 4-2.
After Uribe grounded out to Mujica, A.J. Ellis hit the Dodgers third solo home run of the afternoon and extended the lead to 5-2. Michael Young pinch-hit again, but as he has all series, he made another out.
As he’s done for the better part of the second half, Brian Wilson came on in the eighth inning got the Cardinals in order as he struck out “Mr. October” Carlos Beltran and the Dodgers were three outs away from sending the series back to St. Louis.
With two outs in the ninth inning, Gonzalez hit a John Axford curveball down the right field line for his second home run of the afternoon and the Dodgers stretched the lead to 6-2 heading into the top of the ninth.
Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth inning and Holliday blooped a double into right as Puig lost it in the sun and Adams brought him home with an RBI single and cut the Dodger lead to 6-3 with nobody out. Jansen retired Molina with a huge strikeout as Jay stepped to the plate as the Dodgers were two outs from a Game 6.
Jay promptly smacked a single to right, giving the Cardinals first and second with one out, trailing 6-3 as Freese stepped in. Jansen struck Freese out on a 1-2 fastball for the second out in the ninth inning. Pete Kozma came up with a timely RBI and had the Dodger Stadium crowd nervous as the Cardinals cut the deficit to 6-4.
Adron Chambers came up to pinch-hit for the Cardinals against Jansen and struck out looking as the Dodgers will now head to St. Louis with Clayton Kershaw on the mound for Game 6.
In case you missed it, here’s the celebration from Adrian Gonzalez after his third inning home run today!