The Clayton Kershaw-Adam Wainwright matchup in Game One of the National League Division Series was supposed to be a pitchers duel.
Instead, it turned into batting practice.
The Cardinals tagged Kershaw for eight runs on their way to a 10-9 come from behind victory Friday, to take a 1-0 game lead in the best of five series.
The sold crowd of 54,265, and just about everyone this side of St. Louis, thought the game was over after A.J. Ellis’s two-run home run in the fifth gave the Dodgers a 6-1 lead, and knocked Wainwright out of the game
But, Matt Carpenter's solo homer in the sixth cut the Dodgers lead to, 6-2.
Carpenter delivered the knockout blow in the seventh.
Four straight singles by the Cardinals to start the inning cut the Dodgers lead to, 6-3. John Jay later singled home a run with one out to make the score, 6-4. Carpenter, who helped knock Kershaw and the Dodgers out of the playoffs last year with a huge double in Game Six of the NLCS, delivered again. With the bases loaded, he doubled off the right-center field wall to clear the bases and give the Cardinals the lead, 7-6.
Afterward Kershaw tipped his hat to the Cardinals third baseman.
“He hit a fastball. He fouled off some good pitches and I got one up and he put a good swing on it,” he said afterward.
But, the Cardinals weren’t done. Pedro Baez came in to relieve Kershaw and walked Randal Grichuk. Matt Holliday, who started the seventh with a single, followed with a three-run homer to give the Cards a 10-6 lead.
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And, as far as the unravelling in that seventh inning, the lefty didn’t make excuses.
“I left some fastballs over the middle of the plate and they got some hits. They ride on momentum. They got a couple guys on base and gained a lot of confidence really fast,” Kershaw said.
Kershaw went 6 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs, eight hits, two homers, while striking out 10. He also became the first pitcher in Major League Baseball history to give up at least seven runs in postseason consecutive starts. He gave up seven runs in that Game Six start last year.
The Dodgers offense had a good night despite the outcome.
The collected 16 hits. Four Dodgers had multi-hit games, led by Matt Kemp’s 3-for-5 night, and they had a chance to tie or win it in the bottom of the ninth but Yasiel Puig struck out on a 99 mph fastball from Trevor Rosenthal to strand Andre Ethier at third. Ethier was the 21st runner the Dodgers left on base on the night.
Rosenthal got the save. Marco Gonzales (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning to pick up the win.
Wainwright lasted only 4 ⅓ innings, he allowed six runs on 11 hits, he walked one, hit a batter and struck out five. He didn’t factor in the decision.
All the excitement seemed to start after a brief dust up in the third inning.
Leading off the inning, Yasiel Puig was hit in the shoulder by an Adam Wainwright fastball. On deck hitter Adrian Gonzalez took exception to it and went toe-to-to with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
“It was a friendly conversation. I was just, basically, saying… we’re not going to put up with that,” Gonzalez said after the game.
Both teams benches cleared but no punches were thrown, and nobody was ejected. In fact, Wainwright and Puig talked it out. Mattingly believes he even heard the Cardinals starter say “my bad.”
But, it seemed to get the Dodgers fired up.
They scored two runs in the inning and followed up by adding two more runs each in the fourth and fifth innings.
The Cardinals players could sense that it got the Dodgers going.
“It put a fire under them, if it did anything,” Carpenter said. “Obviously, it didn’t have an impact on us because we were able to come back and find away to win, but i definitely think at that particular moment it woke a sleeping dog.”
Randal Gichuk stunned the Dodger crowd in the first when he hit an 0-2 curve from Kershaw over the left field wall for a home run that gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
How rare was that? It was only the second homer Kershaw had given up all season on his curveball.