The Cardinals hammered the Dodgers again on Saturday night, guaranteeing their second series win of the season and pushing the club over the .500 mark for the first time.
St. Louis starter Kyle McClellan won his second start of 2011 with an efficient performance in which he outdueled LA ace Clayton Kershaw. The Birds went on to win the game by a 9-2 score.
The Cardinals change of fortunes from a team that went 3-6 over the first week and a half of the season to one that has won five of its last six games has nothing at all to do with luck. The way this club plays the game has completely changed over the last week.
Redbirds hitters were jumping at the first pitch in their zip code at the start of the season and they, subsequently, allowing opposing hurlers to breeze through inning after inning. They're still aggressive at the plate now. But they're being smart, too, forcing pitchers to put offerings in the strike zone.
McClellan was brilliant, twirling seven innings while allowing only one run on six hits with no walks. He struck out two. Dodgers counterpark Clayton Kershaw was befuddled by the patience of Cardinals hitters who forced him to throw 111 pitches in 4 2/3 innings. He surrendered five earned runs scored with six hits and five walks while whiffing five Redbirds batters.
Allen Craig was the hitting star of the game for the Cardinals with a three-run homer that KOed Kershaw with two outs in the fifth amongst his three hits. Craig, who played in right field to give red hot slugger Lance Berkman a day off against a tough lefty, scored two runs to go with his three driven in.
Colby Rasmus singled in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to nine games. Although he struggled early against Kershaw, it's good to see him get some exposure to an elite southpaw at this point in Rasmus' develppment
I'm not sure if there is some bad blood brewing between the Cardinals and Dodgers or if Los Angeles is just getting tired of getting its brains beat out in this series. But there was some tension when former Redbirds hurler Mike MacDougal pelted Tyler Greene with one pitch, then buzzed Gerald Laird high and tight with a second. Both teams were warned about letting the matter escalate.
Eduardo Sanchez, who made his major league debut earlier in the series with a five strike out performance over two innings, pitched again Saturday. He struck out all three of the Dodgers he retired in the ninth. He allowed one hit, a blooper to right that looked like it would be caught. But it didn't carry to right fielder Jon Jay.
Cardinals Star of the Game: McClellan
Cardinals Play of the Game: Craig's homer
Lowlight: Ryan Theriot has been hitting a lot better. But he's not exactly going to win the baserunner of the year award. He was nailed trying to take third on a run-scoring double in the fourth. Then in the ninth Theriot was thrown out at the plate -- on a play on which he didn't even try to slide -- with no outs.