Don Mattingly and the coaching staff decided against starting Zack Greinke on three-days rest and went with Ricky Nolasco who hadn’t made a start since September 25 in Game 4 tonight.
While many thought he would’ve been rusty, Nolasco got the top of the Cardinals lineup out on six pitches as many weren’t even in their seats yet at Dodger Stadium. His opponent, Lance Lynn, also made quick work in the first inning as things moved quickly to the second inning.
Yadier Molina walked for the first base-runner on either side, but strikeouts of Matt Adams and David Freese got Nolasco out of trouble. In the bottom of the inning, Andre Ethier blooped a single into center. Yasiel Puig showed great patience and worked a 3-1 walk, bringing Juan Uribe to the dish.
While he had a great NLDS, Uribe continued to struggle in the NLCS and lined out softly to Matt Carpenter. A.J. Ellis worked a walk that loaded the bases for Nolasco. However, the righty never took the bat off his shoulders and struck out looking to end the second inning tied at zero.
Unfortunately, the third inning wasn’t too kind to Nolasco as a lead off single from Jay started the rally. Lynn then sacrificed him over to second and Carpenter brought him home on an RBI double. After retiring Carlos Beltran and Carpenter moving over to third, Nolasco was nearly out of the jam.
AJ called for a pitch inside, but Nolasco missed considerably and Matt Holliday deposited one 426-feet into the Dodgers bullpen and the hole was now 3-0. Still, Lynn retired the top of the Dodger order 1-2-3 and through three innings, the Dodger bats were quiet yet again.
Still, Nolasco fought back after a tough third inning and retired the Cardinals and heading to the bottom of the fourth, the Dodgers had Gonzalez, Ethier and Puig due up.
Gonzalez led off the inning with a double down the right field line and Ethier walked with first and second and nobody out for Puig. Lynn brushed him back with the first pitch in the at-bat, but Puig rallied and knocked in the Dodgers first run.
Uribe swung at the first pitch again and crushed one to the warning track that moved Ethier up to third for A.J. Ellis. Ellis came up with a clutch hit and stroked a single to center, cutting the Cardinal lead to 3-2.
Feeling a sense of urgency, Mattingly pulled Nolasco in favor of Skip Schumaker, but like he’s done several times, Schumaker grounded into a double play, ending the Dodger rally.
Chris Withrow came on for the Dodgers in the top of the fifth and after he got Jay to strike out, he thought he struck out Lynn on a 2-2 fastball. He ended up walking Lynn and wild pitching him over to second with Carpenter at the dish. Carpenter flew out to left and brought up Beltran.
Still looking rattled about the non-strike 3 call, Withrow balked Carpenter over to third and ended up walking Beltran, bringing up Holliday, who homered earlier. Withrow settled down and got Beltran to grounded into the fielder’s choice as the Dodgers and Cardinals were halfway through Game 4 with the Cardinals leading 3-2.
Withrow didn’t make things easy in the top of the sixth as he walked Molina with one out and catcher’s interference was called on AJ, giving the Cardinals first and second with one out.
However, Freese grounded into the double play and the Dodgers were out of the top of the sixth, still trailing 3-2. Meanwhile, the Dodgers got a one-out single from Puig and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny pulled Lynn in favor of Seth Maness to face Uribe.
Uribe finally took a first pitch, but would ground into an inning-ending double play on a great turn by Pete Kozma and Carpenter to end the Dodgers threat in the sixth inning.
J.P. Howell came on for the Dodgers in the seventh inning and Hanley was pulled after motioning to the coaching staff that he couldn’t bear the pain anymore and gave way to Nick Punto.
After getting Descalso to strike out, Howell faced pinch-hitter Shane Robinson with one-out in the seventh inning and he hit one of the more improbable home runs, as it barely cleared the left field fence and the Cardinals extended the lead to 4-2.
In the bottom of the seventh, A.J. Ellis flied out to right, but Punto sent life back into Dodger Stadium with a one-out double. However, he didn’t have much time to get excited as he made one of the more boneheaded plays of his career and got picked off second, sucking the life right out. Crawford grounded out and the Dodgers only had six outs left to play with before going down 3-1 in the NLCS.
Ronald Belisario took over on the mound and after recording the first out, he allowed a single to Jay and hit Kozma prompting Mattingly to go to his bench. Carlos Marmol entered the game for Belisario and Michael Young took over for Punto at shortstop.
Marmol got out of the jam with a strikeout and groundout as the Dodgers headed to the bottom of the eighth with Mark Ellis, Young and Gonzalez against Carlos Martinez. Unfortunately, the Dodger bats went silent again as they went down in order and heading to the top of the ninth, the Dodgers were three outs away from being down 3-1.
Marmol struck out Adron Chambers and Adams struck out looking as the Dodgers were down 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth with Ethier, Puig and Uribe due up against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.
In the ninth inning, Ethier singled to center that brought up Puig against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal. Puig worked the count to 2-0, but grounded into a double play. Uribe would go on and strike out and the Dodgers fell 4-2 and were one game away from being eliminated as Zack Greinke will start Game 5 tomorrow night.
In case you missed it, here’s details about the “RallyBear” from Game 3 of the NLCS.