The recurring theme of the sportswriters who have spent the last three days writing the St. Louis Cardinals' obituary has been that the Redbirds couldn't score enough runs to compete against the high-powered Los Angeles Dodgers.
So, naturally, the Dodgers scored nine runs against the Cardinals in what was expected to be a titanic pitchers duel -- and lost.
The Birds put themselves into a nearly impossible position Friday night by getting down 6-1 to Cy Young Award favorite Clayton Kershaw with sloppy defensive play behind a poor start by St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright.
But, in shades of 2011, the Cardinals refused to give up, chipping away with a solo homer by Matt Carpenter in the sixth inning to cut the score to 6-2. Then they loaded the bases in the seventh with no one out with three straight singles.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Matt Adams, against the tough lefty Kershaw, managed to stroke a ball up the middle to plate one run and cut the score to 6-3. But things took a gloomy turn when Pete Kozma was unable to at least hit a fly ball to further erode the Dodgers lead.
Jon Jay picked things back up with a single that made the score 6-4 and skipper Mike Matheny sent Oscar Taveras to the plate to waive in futility at three Kershaw pitches. That brought Carpenter back to the plate with two outs and the sacks jammed. He quickly had two strikes against him, but Carp laid off a couple of pitches out of the strike zone and fouled off several over the plate before picking out a pitch he liked and clearing the bases with a double off the right centerfield wall to put St. Louis ahead.
Matt Holliday would add a three-run homer to make the St. Louis advantage 10-6. And the Cardinals would need every bit of it when Randy Choate came in and gave up a two-run homer in the eighth and the Dodgers brought the tying run to third with the winning run at the plate.
But Trevor Rosenthal was able to strike out Yasiel Puig to end the game and give St. Louis an all-important road win.
The game turned when Wainwright hit Puig with a pitch in the second inning while the Dodgers centerfielder crowded the plate and refused to back off. After the benches cleared, Wainwright seemed reluctant to throw inside and LA batters teed off. The Dodgers went 7-for-13 against the St. Louis ace after that and scored six runs.
After Wainwright left the game, St. Louis pitchers seemed to have a new lease on life and quieted the Dodger bats until the last two innings.
Regardless of the outcome, the Cardinals bloodied the nose of Kershaw with eight hits and eight earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. At some point, it must get into a guy's head when the same team always seems to find a way to beat him. Especially in the post season.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Matt Carpenter with two hits in five at-bats including a homer and his clutch, go-ahead double.
Cardinals play of the Game: Carp's two-bagger
Lowlight: Wainwright gave up 11 hits and six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings of work.