In a particularly intense opening game to the National League Championship Series, the St. Louis Cardinals edged the Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch Stadium, 3-2, with all the St. Louis runs batted in by right-fielder Carlos Beltran, who drove in the game winner in the bottom of the 13th inning.
With one out in the 13th, Dodger reliever Chris Withrow gave up a single to center to pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso and then advanced to second after a walk to Matt Carpenter. Manager Don Mattingly would pull Withrow so that hard-throwing closer Kenley Jansen could face Beltran. The switch-hitter batted left against the right-hand throwing Jansen, and drilled a shot to right field that easily scored Descalso.
Lance Lynn, who has been assigned a long-reliever role for St. Louis, earned the win for two innings of work.
Game One lasted four hours and 47 minutes. A combined 37 players of a total of 50 saw action for a game that started at 8:37 pm Eastern time, and ended at about 1:24 am.
The Dodgers posted two runs in the third inning when Juan Uribe singled up the middle to drive in Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez. It was another big hit for Uribe, who ripped a two-run homer against the Atlanta Braves in Game Four of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on Monday.
The Cardinals would answer right back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. With pitcher Joe Kelly on second base and Matt Carpenter on first, Beltran hit a deep shot to the right-center field for a two-run double. The hit nearly cleared the wall, and just missed the glove of centerfielder Andre Ethier, who returned to the starting lineup after being limited with an ankle injury.
Los Angeles had a great chance to score in the top of the 10th inning. Mark Ellis hit what looked to be a double to right-center field, but the bounce was misjudged by Beltran, and the veteran second baseman was able to stretch it into a triple. After an intentional walk to Hanley Ramirez, Michael Young would hit a sacrifice fly to right-center, and Beltran would deliver a fantastic one-bounce throw to home plate to retire Ellis for the double-play. Beltran had called off centerfielder Jon Jay to make the play.
“We had a couple good opportunities to score a run, and we didn’t do it,” said Mattingly.
Both teams received strong performances from their starters. Kelly allowed just two runs in six innings, and allowed just one extra base hit. The 25-year-old right-hander seemed to be a little jittery in the early innings, but settled down to walk just two batters, and strike out five. Shelby Miller started to warm up in the bullpen in the third inning after Ramirez and Gonzalez walked.
The Dodgers’ No. 2 starter, Zack Greinke, was even more effective. The veteran right-hander, who signed a six-year contract worth $147 million in the offseason, went eight innings and struck out 10, while allowing just two earned runs. The deep double to Beltran was one of Greinke’s few mistakes on the evening, as the Cardinal bats struggled to hit his slider.
It was the offense that let the Dodgers down. Los Angeles left 11 runners on base and hit into three double plays. Star rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig failed to reach base in six at-bats.
Game Two is Saturday at 4:07 pm ET in St. Louis, and features Cy Young award candidate Clayton Kershaw on the mound for Los Angeles, while 22-year-old Michael Wacha gets the start for the Cardinals.