It was the spectacular plays the Cardinals defense made all game long and the one play the Dodgers outfielders could not, that had much to do with the 3-1 St. Louis win Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
With L.A. up 1-0 in the fourth, A.J. Ellis scorched a drive down the right field line. Allen Craig ran the ball down, slid to stop it from going to the wall and fired a perfect one-hopper to get Ellis at second base in his failed attempt to stretch the hit into a double. Miguel Rojas would follow by striking out to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth, the Dodgers defense had its chance to show how much it has improved in the last month, but it failed to come through. Johnny Peralta lined a ball into the center-field gap. Scott Van Slyke, who’s not the swiftest of foot, charged full speed towards it from center field, while a freight train in Yasiel Puig went barreling to the ball from his post in right field.
Neither of them caught it. Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday scored to give the Cardinals the lead for good, 3-1.
"Obviously, I’m going full speed to try and catch it and I look up and I see Puig," Van Slyke said describing the play after the game. "It looks like we’re equal distance from the ball and it’s just one of those things where it just fell in there."
Puig also wasn’t sure about how the ball landed.
"We just did the best we could. We just ran into each other and neither of us could make that play," Puig said.
Van Slyke would later get ejected for arguing a called third strike with home plate umpire Bill Miller.
Peralta gave the Cardinals the lead in the top of the fifth, and he shut the door on the Dodgers rally in the bottom of the inning. With runners on first and second base and one out, Adrian Gonzalez hit a grounder that was heading up the middle for a possible run scoring single. Unfortunately, it flapped off the glove of pitcher Seth Maness. That slowed the ball down enough for Peralta to pick it off, touch second base with the tip of his right cleat and throw Gonzalez out at first. Inning over.
St. Louis wasn’t done flashing the leather.
In the sixth, Juan Uribe smashed a drive to center that looked like a sure extra-base hit. Matt Kemp would’ve easily scored from first. But, center fielder Jon Jay made an incredible diving, over the shoulder catch at the warning track and nearly threw Kemp out at first for a double play. Yadier Molina then threw Kemp out trying to steal second. Rally, and inning, killed.
Molina also hit his seventh home run of the season off the left-field foul pole.
In a game that rewards the team that can hit-‘em-where-they-ain’t, the Dodgers did but it didn’t matter.
“They made it to the World Series last year. They knocked us out of the playoffs last year, they kept us from going to the playoffs the year before. They got a good club,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said afterward when asked about the Cardinals stellar defensive Friday.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-4) pitched well but took the loss. He allowed three runs on nine hits in seven innings. The lefty also walked one and struck out seven.
Carlos Martinez started for St. Louis but was pulled in the fifth with two runners on base. At that point he had only allowed one run on six hits in 4 ⅓ innings.
Maness (3-2) relieved Martinez and would pick up the win. He threw 2 ⅓ innings and allowed just one hit while striking out two.
Trevor Rosenthal picked up his 24th save.
Dee Gordon was the bright spot offensively for the Dodgers going 3 for 4 with an RBI.