Matt Kemp belted a two-run homer and the Dodgers received a yeoman effort from the bullpen, as Los Angeles posted a 5-3 win over St. Louis in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Chavez Ravine.
Rafael Furcal collected three hits, including a triple, and knocked in a run for the Dodgers, who captured their second straight NL West crown. Casey Blake finished 2-for-4 with a run batted in.
Randy Wolf, making his first career postseason appearance, gave up two runs on six hits and walked five in 3 2/3 innings. Jeff Weaver (1-0) recorded the final out in the fourth and worked around a two-out double by Colby Rasmus in the fifth to get the win.
Ronald Belisario hurled a spotless inning for Los Angeles and Hong-Chih Kuo struck out pinch-hitter Troy Glaus to strand a pair of runners in the seventh. George Sherrill, a mid-season acquisition, retired two of the three batters he faced in the eighth before he was replaced by closer Jonathan Broxton, who earned a four-out save.
Mark DeRosa went 3-for-5 with an RBI for the NL Central champion Cardinals, who have dropped nine of their last 11 games dating back to the regular season.
Chris Carpenter (0-1), the NL Comeback Player of the Year, looked like anything but a Cy Young contender for St. Louis, surrendering four runs on nine hits and walking four in five innings of work.
“Chris’ command at times was not as sharp as it usually is,” said St. Louis manager Tony La Russa. “It’s a credit to their hitters and you have to tip your cap to them. We had a bunch of hits, we just got beat by someone who was better.”
The clubs established a postseason record by stranding a combined 30 men on base — 16 for Los Angeles — in a nine-inning game.
Game 2 of the this best-of-five series is scheduled for Thursday at 6:07 p.m. (et) in Los Angeles. Clayton Kershaw will toe the rubber for the Dodgers, while St. Louis counters with Adam Wainwright.
The most consistent Los Angeles pitcher down the stretch, Wolf, who won six of his last seven decisions, encountered trouble in the first inning. St. Louis had the bases loaded with no outs, but the veteran lefty limited the damage to one run.
After Matt Holliday was caught staring at a third strike, Ryan Ludwick hit a pop up to center field that fell between a charging Kemp and a backpedaling Ronnie Belliard. Skip Schumaker, who walked to begin the game, sprinted home with the series’ first run. Yadier Molina then grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Los Angeles answered in the bottom of the first when Furcal led off with a base hit and Kemp deposited Carpenter’s offering into the center-field bleachers.
“He gave me a sinker down the middle and I put a good swing on it,” Kemp said about his home run. “We tried to get Chris out of the game early and that’s what we did.”
The Dodgers pushed across another run in the third. Carpenter hit Andre Ethier on his back foot with a pitch and walked Manny Ramirez to start the frame. Ethier then advanced to third on a James Loney fly ball.
Next up was Blake and he hit a sharp grounder down the left-field line. DeRosa made a nice diving stop at third, but uncorked an errant throw that sailed into right field. Blake was credited with a single and an RBI as Ethier scored for a 3-1 Los Angeles lead.
St. Louis responded in its next turn at the plate, closing to within a run on a double by Schumaker. The Cardinals loaded the bases later in the fourth, but Weaver induced a groundout from Ludwick to end the inning.
Carpenter pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the home half of the fourth. After quickly retiring the first two batters, Carpenter yielded a single to Ethier and a double to Ramirez before walking Loney. The threat was thwarted when Ludwick chased down a liner off the bat of Blake in right.
Furcal’s sacrifice fly in the fifth extended the lead to 4-2, and Los Angeles tacked on another run in the sixth when reliever Kyle McClellan plunked Russell Martin with the bags full.
Broxton gave up an RBI double to DeRosa in the ninth to account for the final margin.
The Dodgers are in the postseason for the third time in the last four years. St. Louis, meanwhile, is back in the playoffs for the first time since winning the World Series in 2006…Los Angeles and St. Louis are meeting in the postseason for the third time. The Cardinals beat the Dodgers in a 2004 division series and the 1985 NL Championship Series, both en route to World Series defeats…Carpenter was 5-0 in six career starts against Los Angeles…The Dodgers finished 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, while St. Louis was 3-for-13…St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols went 0- for-3 with a pair of walks.
— Via Sports Network