Dodgers on Brink of Elimination With Game 3 Loss to Cardinals

The Cardinals won the battle of the bullpens

One swing, on one pitch has the Los Angeles Dodgers one game away from being eliminated from the playoffs.

Kolten Wong's two-run home run in the seventh inning off Dodger reliever Scott Elbert propelled the Cardinals to a 3-1 win Monday and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

"I never faced that guy before. I knew he had a sinker. I knew he was a tough pitcher on lefties. I just wanted to make sure I hit something in the air, something deep enough to score [Yadier Molina]," Wong told Fox Sports 1 afterward.

Elbert took the loss.

He spent most of the 2014 season in the minor leagues, yet Dodger manager Don Mattingly shrugged off the notion that the moment was too big for the lefty, though he had only pitched 4 1/3 Major League innings this year.

"Scottie's a lefty that gives us an angle. We haven't had a lot of success against their lefties, I wanted to give them a different look," Mattingly said. "At this point when we put him on the roster he'd been throwing the ball good. He's there to get lefties out. It's why we put the roster together the way we did, we knew the Cardinals were a team with some good left-handed hitters and we wanted to try and neutralize them."

For the second game in a row the bullpen spoiled a quality start from a Dodger starter. Hyun-Jin Ryu hadn't pitched in a game in nearly a month after battling a shoulder injury but he went six innings, allowing one run on five hits, he struck out four and walked one. His one mistake was throwing a fastball that Matt Carpenter deposited into the right-center field seats for his third homer of the series.

Carpenter has destroyed Dodger pitching in the series. He's 6 for 12 with three home runs, three doubles, seven RBI's and four runs scored.

"I'm just trying to have good at bats, trying to get good pitches to hit and put a good swing on it, do my job at the top of the order. It's been going well," Carpenter told ESPN after the game.

The Dodgers had a chance in the ninth, but A.J. Ellis flied out to right against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal with tying run on first base to end it. For Rosenthal it was his second save of the series.

The Dodgers scored their only run In the sixth. After a leadoff triple by Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez hit a two-out double to right, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Puig went 1 for 4 but he struck out in his three other at bats. Before the triple he had struck out in eight of nine at bats. But, Mattingly says he's sticking with him despite the struggles.

"We continue to talk with him. You don't want the situation to be to big for him. Obviously, we know he's emotional, so we want to try and settle him down, continue to talk to him about playing baseball," he said.

Before the start of the game, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he'll go with Clayton Kershaw on three days' rest in Game 4 Tuesday, in what is now an elimination game.

He added he "pretty much knew" he'd go that way with his ace pitcher before the series started.

Mattingly said Zack Greinke would start a potential Game 5 on regular rest Thursday in Los Angeles.

Kershaw has been pummeled his last two times in the postseason by the Cardinals, and surrendered eight runs in 6 2-3 innings while blowing a five-run lead in Game 1.

Mattingly said Kershaw had bounced back mentally as well as physically, and noted the lefty came back strong last fall the start after he pitched on three days' rest, a 1-0 loss to St. Louis in the NL Championship Series.

"It's Clayton Kershaw. I hate to say it like that," Mattingly said. "These kind of guys don't curl up and go away. So, this is a different cat."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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