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Kemp hammers Carpenter; Dodgers strand 16 but win opener

Big League Stew

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Score and situation: Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3Los Angeles leads series 1-0

Leading lads: L.A.'s young stud center fielder struggled down the stretch as the Dodgers stumbled toward the finish line, but Matt Kemp(notes) jumped all over the first pitch he saw from Chris Carpenter(notes), hitting it into the bleachers in right-center to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead in the first inning. Another leader was middle man Ronald Belisario(notes), who turned in the only 1-2-3 inning of the game, the top of the sixth.

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Head hangers: The NL's ERA leader, who went 17-4 overall and 2-0 against the Dodgers, Carpenter had not allowed a home run in his past 10 starts. Further, he only allowed a ridiculous seven homers all season. But he kept leaving everything over the plate for the Dodgers, who could have scored nine or 10 runs if they had done better than 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Cards manager Tony La Russa also should have considered replacing Carpenter with a pinch hitter in the fifth after Colby Rasmus(notes) hit a two-out double. Instead, Carpenter made an out and allowed another run in the bottom of the fifth.

Big play: After the Cardinals pulled within 3-2 in the fourth, Jeff Weaver(notes) replaced Dodgers starter Randy Wolf(notes). Ryan Ludwick(notes) lined a pitch just foul and then hit a comebacker to Weaver, who easily threw him out at first base. It was a typical moment for the Dodgers bullpen and the Cards' offense.

Big stat: Both teams combined to leave 30 (Cardinals — 14) runners on base, a postseason record for a nine-inning game. There's a lot of opportunities, if you know how to take them, you know? Oh, and the game lasted 3 hours, 54 minutes, an LDS record.

What they're talking about: With Cardinals runners at second and third in the top of the first inning, the Dodgers intentionally walked Albert Pujols(notes) to load the bases with no outs. After Matt Holliday(notes) struck out, all the Cardinals could get in the inning was one run, on Ludwick's bloop single to shallow center. Pujols also was walked intentionally in the crucial fourth inning. He finished 0-for-3.

What they're saying:

"In the playoffs, everything's different, so we're just happy that we got the win. But remember, tomorrow's another day, so let's see what happens. We still got two more to go." — Manny Ramirez(notes)

What's next: Clayton Kershaw(notes), who had 10 strikeouts in the division clincher against the Rockies, gives the Dodgers a great chance to send the Cardinals back to St. Louis down 0-2.

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