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Dodgers Create House of Horrors for Cardinals

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Dodger Stadium is starting to become a house of horrors for the St. Louis Cardinals.

In Game 2 of the National League Division Series last season, a Matt Holliday error in left field in the bottom of the ninth took what would have been a sure victory into an agonizing defeat to give the Dodgers the 2-0 lead in the series. This time Blake DeWitt proved to be the king of this castle as the Dodgers pounded the Cardinals away threw out there for the 12-4 win.

DeWitt, who had been scuffling a bit since the middle of May, went 2-for-3 with a three-run homer,five RBI and made a spectacular catch in the outfield on a pop-up by Jason LaRue in the ninth inning.

“The last few days DeWitt has been looking a little more comfortable,” manager Joe Torre said. “Tonight was a big night for him. He did some good things out there.”

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DeWitt confirmed that he was feeling more comfortable.

“I’m just relaxing a little bit,” DeWitt said. “I was trying to force things the last couple of weeks, and that makes it hard as a hitter.”

On the defensive side though he has been making more plays he feels there is room for improvement.

“There is a lot I still have to work on, and just keep trying to go out there and get better,” he said.

With injuries to both starting rotations, the matchup came down between Rule 5 draft pick Carlos Monasterios for the Dodgers and Blake Hawksworth making his first Major League start for the St. Louis Cardinals after appearing in 18 games out of the bullpen.

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The three games that Monasterios had started prior to this game proved to be invaluable as he retired the side in order including the mighty Albert Pujols in the top of the first inning. In fact he produced his best game this season going six innings and two batters in the seventh inning giving up three runs on four hits and three walks. Two of runs came on solo homers by Ryan Ludwick in the second and seventh innings while he silenced the feared duo of Pujols and Matt Holliday who went a combined 0-for-6.

“He gave us certainly all we could have hoped for,” Torre said of Monasterio’s night. “He’s aggressive. He’s not afraid of anyone. He showed us that early on.”

Monasterios was direct when asked about his approach to Pujols and Holliday.

“Just get an out,” he said through translator Kenji Nimura.

And asked if there are any batters that scare him, in perfect English he responded, “Nope.”

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As for the Ludwick homers, he paid the price for falling behind in the count.

“I wanted to throw strikes obviously, but not in the middle,” Monasterios said. “That’s what it ended up being.

With Pujols I was behind in the count with him, but I was able to paint the corners and have success against him. But not Ludwick.”

The Dodgers weren’t so nice to Hawksworth whose last start was with the AAA Memphis Red Birds on July 22, 2009 where he pitched seven innings of one-hit shutout ball against the Nashville Sounds.

Rafael Furcal scorched a line drive single to right center field and stole second during Matt Kemp’s at bat. Kemp lined a single to left center that scored Furcal, took second on a wild pitch to Andre Ethier, third when Ethier hit a dying bloop single to very shallow left field and scored when Manny Ramirez grounded into a double play for the 2-0 lead.

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After James Loney walked on four pitches and Ronnie Belliard who won a World Series ring with the Cardinals in 2006 to end the inning.

It seemed like Hawksworth calmed down afterwards especially when he struck out the side in order in the second inning, but the Dodgers exploded for four runs in the fourth inning which started when Manny scorched the first pitch he saw for a double. After James Loney grounded to second to advance Manny to third and Belliard walked, it set the stage for the hit parade to come.

Blake DeWitt hit a hit a single that scored Manny for the 3-1 lead. AJ Ellis, starting for the second consecutive game, laid down a squeeze bunt for a single to bring Belliard home for the 4-1 lead. After Monasterios hit a sacrifice bunt that got DeWitt to third and Ellis to second, Furcal brought them home with a ground-rule double for the 6-1 lead.

After consultation with pitching coach Dave Duncan, Hawksworth struck out Kemp to escape the horror.

The Dodgers weren’t any nicer to P.J. Walters in the fifth inning, but with runners on first and third Belliard lunged at a 3-2 pitch and squirted it between the first and second basemen to cash in Ethier for the 7-1 lead.

The pièce de résistance was DeWitt’s 344 foot three-run homer that struck the right field foul pole for his first homer of the season that gave the Dodgers the 10-1 and the crowd of 44,876 free buffalo wings from Claim Jumper.

The Dodgers added two more runs in the seventh to make it a 12-4 game.

Justin Miller gave up one run in the seventh inning and Jon Link, just called up from AAA Albuquerque to replace knuckleballer Charlie Haeger who was placed on the disabled list with a broken toe, pitched the final two innings ceding only one hit.

Randy Winn, picked up off the scrap heap from the New York Yankees, went 0-for-1 with a walk and a stolen base in his second start for the Cardinals. Coming into the game the Dodger killer has a career .307 batting average with eight homers and 35 RBI in 300 at-bats against the Dodgers in 78 games.

In the first round of the draft the Dodgers selected pitcher Zach Lee from McKinney High School on the outskirts of Dallas, TX with the 28th overall pick. Committed to playing football and baseball at LSU next year, it will take considerable amount of money to lure him away from college.

According to Logan White, Assistant General Manager for Scouting, on the chances of signing Lee: “I’m optimistic. He’s an athlete. He’s got a real good delivery - a plus curve and a plus changeup. He’s a really good strike thrower.

“We’re just going to get to know each other, start the process and see where it goes from there.”

A hearty congratulations go out to the Dodgers’ Vice President of Communications Josh Rawitch and his wife Erin who labored this morning to bring him his second child and first son Braden Matthew Rawitch. The two have a daughter Erin who is in her terrible twos.