Los Angeles managed to get the best of St. Louis’ ace in Game 1 of its NL Division Series, but the Dodgers still have a daunting task at hand.
Matt Kemp(notes) hit a two-run, first-inning homer to highlight a 12-hit effort for the Dodgers, who handed Carpenter his first career loss against them after reaching him for four runs in five innings.
“We’re just happy that we got the win,” said Manny Ramirez(notes), who went 1 for 4 and is batting .483 in nine postseason games for the Dodgers. “So let’s see what happens. We still got two more to go.”
Rafael Furcal(notes) added three hits with an RBI for Los Angeles, which was outscored 31-19 while going 2-5 against St. Louis during the regular season. Furcal is batting .438 against Wainwright, who led the NL in wins, finishing 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA.
Wainwright will make his first postseason appearance since closing out the Cardinals’ 4-2 World Series-clinching victory in Game 5 against Detroit in 2006. The right-hander is the first pitcher since Bob Welch in 1981 for the Dodgers to save a World Series game and then draw a starting assignment in his return to the playoffs
Only once this season when Carpenter and Wainwright started back-to-back did St. Louis lose both games.
“(We’ll) try to do the same thing we did against Carpenter - work him, try to get to that bullpen and get a win,” said Kemp. “We’ve still got our work cut out for us.”
Wainwright is 44-23 with a 3.14 ERA in three seasons as a starter for the Cardinals.
“It took me the first half of ’07 to sort of find out what kind of pitcher I was as a starter, what was my identity,” said Wainwright, who went 7-1 with a 2.29 ERA in his last 11 contests. “What works best for me is taking a reliever mentality out there to start and get the guy out as fast as I can get him out as many times as I can do it.”
Wainwright is 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA in five starts against the Dodgers, including 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two this season.
“Well, I’m not going to put too much stock into that,” he said. “So I’ve had success against them because I went out and executed pitches.”
The Dodgers counter with Clayton Kershaw(notes), who makes his first postseason start. The 21-year-old left-hander allowed one run over two innings of relief spanning two appearances against Philadelphia in last year’s NL Championship Series.
“I’ll probably be nervous for sure. I’m nervous every time I pitch,” Kershaw said. “I think it’s how you handle the nerves, how you channel it, how you can use it to your advantage sometimes.”
Kershaw went 8-8 with a 2.82 ERA in 30 starts this season, but is 0-3 despite a 2.60 ERA in his last 11 since beating Houston on July 18. The culprit has been virtually non-existent support from his offense. The Dodgers have supported Kershaw with 1.54 average runs in his last 11 outings, including one total run in his four starts since the beginning of September.
He is 1-0 with a 1.82 ERA in four career starts against the Cardinals.
The offensive struggles have been common of late for the Cardinals, who scored three runs or fewer in 12 of their 17 games to close September.