Dodgers Lose to Cardinals in 12, Fall One Game Back in Wild Card Hunt
The sheen from ElyMania 2010 has long lost its luster. Locked in a 2-2 stalemate for much of the game, Ely once again melted down in extra innings for the Dodgers allowing the St. Louis Cardinals to escape town with a 5-2 victory.
"There are no excuses for giving up runs," Ely said. "I felt good going in. I've got to be better in executing."
Ely's only other appearance this season came on September 4 against the San Diego Padres where he also gave up three runs in the 11th inning to give the Padres the 6-3 win.
The demise started with a leadoff walk to Matt Carpenter. Pete Kozma's bunt moved Carpenter to second base and Daniel Descalso struck out to begin the descent.
Jon Jay doubled home Carpenter for the 3-2 lead. Ely intentionally walked Carlos Beltran to get to Matt Holliday, a repeat strategy of the 10th inning. However unlike that inning when Ronald Belisario got Holliday to ground to a force play to end the inning, Ely hit Holliday to load the bases.
Allen Craig singled and Yadier Molina walked with the bases loaded, and there it was: a game that had died right in front of what remained of the 35,754 crowd and a pitcher now carrying a 20.25 ERA.
"They're all tough at this point," manager Don Mattingly said about the loss.
It was a stark way for the game to end. Like all of the other games in this four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Dodgers and the Red Birds fought a close battle up until that 12th inning. The Dodgers were handicapped having scratched ace Clayton Kershaw due to a lingering hip ailment.
Onward the Dodgers went with Stephen Fife who in three prior starts with the Dodgers amassed a 2.16 ERA despite posting a 0-1 record. But it was a rough first inning for Fife making his first start since August 1 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. After Jon Jay struck out swinging, Carlos Beltran lined a single to left field. Fife didn't help things by hitting Matt Holliday with a pitch.
Being the Dodgers, of course Allen Craig came up and hit an RBI double to give the Red Birds the 1-0 lead. Now with runners on second and third, Fife threw a wild pitch during Yadier Molina's at-bat that scored Holliday for the 2-0 lead.
Molina walked, but Fife struck out David Freese and Skip Schumaker to retire the side.
"I was a little hyped up to start," Fife said about the first inning. "The rhythm wasn't all there, and I was trying to be a little too fine with my pitches."
From that point Fife settled into the game striking out the side in order in the second and fifth innings. In fact his first out with a ball in play came in the third inning when Beltran grounded out to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
Fife said that both third catch Tim Federowicz and starting pitcher Josh Beckett told him after that first inning to be more aggressive. "Second inning I kind of slowed down a little bit and was able to trust the fastball and attack and not be so fine."
Fife made way after five innings to the Dodger bullpen who continued on lockdown mode allowing just two runs over their last 19 2/3 innings dating back to September 8. Shawn Tolleson pitched a perfect sixth while the combination of Randy Choate, Jamey Wright and Paco Rodriguez took care of the seventh.
Brandon League had an easy eighth inning but got into some problems in the ninth inning with a leadoff walk to Yadier Molina with a questionable strike zone. League got David Freese to hit into what would have been a double play if not for his speed. Pinch hitter Matt Carpenter, however, obliged with the double play.
Ronald Belisario got out of a jam in the 10th inning, and Matt Guerrier had a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play to end the 11th.
"It's one of those game where everybody is trying to make pitches, everybody is trying to scratch across a run," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers fell back to one game behind the Cardinals for the final wild card spot, exactly as they came into this four-game series. Despite that this series has seen a transformation with the Dodgers. While their offense still isn't the juggernaut it was once fantasized to be, they have managed to get the key hits to get back into games.
The opening for the Dodgers came in the third inning off of Adam Wainwright. Wainwright walked Matt Treanor to lead things off, and Andre Ethier cleaned up in the two-hole with a home run to right-center field to tie the game up.
Mattingly was confident that the offense would start scuffling as bad as they had been coming into this series. "We play every day. We know how important every game is. You're going to feel bad today, and it's going to hurt. But when it's game day, you've got to be ready to go."
The task isn't easy for the Dodgers. While the Cardinals get to see the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs for their next nine games, the Dodgers go on the road to the Washington Nationals for three games, to Cincinnati for three and to San Diego for three.
With 10 pitchers used in this game, the Dodgers broke a franchise record. The previous record was nine pitchers last done on July 24, 2010 against the New York Mets.