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Dodgers Survive Epic Game against Cards

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This game was supposed to be an exhibition by St. Louis Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter to display his dominance over a completely overmatched Dodgers club.

But what was the name of the game? Let’s leave runners on base!

The Dodgers and Cardinals broke an NLDS record combining for 30 runners left on base. Three times the Dodgers had the bases loaded only to bring home one runner - and that was on a hit batsman. They ended up leaving 16 runners on base, but they still went on to beat the Cardinals 5-3 in game one of the National League Divisional Series.

“To me I felt we applied a lot of pressure,” Torre said, “but when you have the best teams in baseball out there their pitchers know how to get out of jams, and I’m happy to say that ours did too.”

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But Torre isn’t going to lose sleep over it.

“That really doesn’t concern me,” Torre continued. “All it tells me is we’re getting opportunities. And you certainly want to cash in on more, but you have to understand who you’re playing too.”

Starter Randy Wolf was shaky off the bat.

Wolf loaded the bases when he walked Skip Schumaker to lead off the game, gave up a ground-rule double to Brendan Ryan that was just fair down the third base line and intentionally walked Albert Pujols. With the infield playing at normal depth, Wolf struck out Matt Holliday to the delight of the Dodger crowd which exploded in jubilation.

However in a nine-pitch at-bat, Ryan Ludwick hit a towering pop-up that neither Ronnie Belliard nor Matt Kemp could catch scoring Schumaker which gave the Cardinals a quick 1-0 lead.

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Wolf got out of the inning by Yadier Molina’s double play.

The Dodgers did not hesitate to respond in the home-half of the first inning. Rafael Furcal singled to left field which set the stage for Matt Kemp who took Carpenter’s first pitch out to straight-away center field for his first postseason homer of his career giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.

“It feels great,” Kemp said of his homer. “Got a little momentum in the first inning off of a good pitcher, got up and gave Wolfie a little confidence to go back out there after a rough inning. We went from there.”

The Dodgers extended their lead 3-1 in the third inning when Casey Blake hit a single scoring Ethier from third.

After getting out of trouble in the second and third innings stranding two base runners in each inning, troubles again found Wolf in the fourth inning. Colby Rasmus scored on a Schumaker double to cut the Dodger lead 3-2.

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After Wolf hit Matt Holliday by a pitch to load the bases Torre gave Wolf the hook, a move he wouldn’t make in the regular season.

“I usually have the starter decide his own fate,” Torre explained about going to the bullpen so early, “but Don Zimmer taught me that this postseason stuff is all about not being patient and doing what you feel you need to do at the time you need to do it.”

So with two outs Jeff Weaver came into the game and got Ludwick to bounce back to the box to abort the Cardinals rally.

That pivotal out in the fourth inning set the tone for the remainder of the game with the bullpen shutting out the Cardinals for four innings.

“Randy didn’t have his best stuff but he battled for us,” reliever George Sherrill said who gave the Dodgers 2/3 innings of shutout ball. “He got as far as he could, Weaver came in and picked him up and turned the ball over to us. Everybody stepped up.”

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Another pivotal moment came in the bottom of the fifth inning with the Dodgers still holding onto a 3-2 lead. With Belliard on third and Russell Martin on second, Furcal had an at-bat that kept the Cardinals on their toes. Catcher Yadier Molina, thinking Martin was tipping pitches to Furcal, kept changing signs. Furcal would battle for 11 pitches before hitting a towering sacrifice fly out to right field scoring Belliard for a 4-2 lead.

The Dodgers added an extra run in the sixth inning when Martin was hit by reliever Kyle McClellan’s pitch with the bases loaded.

The Cardinals added a run in the top of the ninth inning off of closer Jonathan Broxton but was stopped short.

“They were sharper than we were in every area,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

Carpenter ended with a very mortal five innings giving up four runs on nine hits, four walks and a hit batter while striking out three.

“[Carpenter’s] command at times was not as sharp as it usually is, and they didn’t miss it many times,” La Russa said.

Wolf lasted only 3 2/3 innings he was able to get out of jams while yielding only two runs.

“He’s pitching at home, and I thought he settled in after the first two innings,” Torre said of Wolf’s performance. “I was just a little uncomfortable in that fourth innings, especially when he hit Holliday.

“I didn’t think his command was as good as we have seen it. Plus left-handers had good luck with him today, and he’s been nails against left-handers this year.”

Some batting lines of note:

Albert Pujols went 0-for-3 while being intentionally walked twice. Matt Holliday went 1-for-4 striking out twice.

Furcal was the force for the Dodgers going 3-for-4 with an RBI and scoring a run. Andre Ethier also had a big night going 2-for-3 with a walk and scoring twice.

With that concludes the longest nine-inning game played in NLDS history at 3:54 in front of a sold out crowd of 56,000.

Tomorrow’s game begins at 3:07 pm and will once again be shown on TBS and heard on the radio on AM 790 KABC. Clayton Kershaw will get the start for the Dodgers against Adam Wainwright.

Additional reporting by Caleb Bacon