LOS ANGELES (AP)—The calendar says June, not October. Yet the Cardinals and Dodgers played as though something big was on the line, with outstanding outings by their starters and stellar defense.
The Dodgers lead San Diego by a half-game and their 35-24 record is the best in the NL. With their eighth win in 10 games, they’re back in first for the first time since being tied on May 22. Eight of their previous nine victories were by one run, including three by scores of 1-0.
“It was a classic,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “That’s postseason baseball. Carpenter did an amazing job getting out of jams. Kuroda, that’s as good as you want to see him. If they’d beaten us, I’d still have to say it was a great game.”
St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols(notes) was blanked for a second straight night and is hitless in eight at-bats in the series, a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff won by the Dodgers in a three-game sweep.
“He was commanding his fastball and he wasn’t missing his spots,” Pujols said about Kuroda. “He was mixing up his pitches and he threw everything.”
“This is a tough place to win,” he said. “Carp pitched great, but we just couldn’t come up with enough offense to help him out.”
Carpenter has a 0.83 ERA since May 28.
“He moved the ball on both sides of the plate and he pitched us tough. We were taking tough at-bats, but he was tougher,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said about Kuroda. “The same thing with Carp. They were taking tough at-bats and Carp was tougher.”
Rafael Furcal(notes) led off the eighth with a single against Trever Miller(notes) (0-1). Andre Ethier(notes) singled one out later and Ramirez greeted Kyle McClellan(notes) with his double into the right-field corner.
Ramirez was the first player out of the Dodgers’ clubhouse and didn’t speak with reporters in keeping with his behavior this season.
Ethier had to stop at third because of fan interference. James Loney(notes) was intentionally walked to load the bases, but McClellan minimized the damage by striking out Casey Blake(notes) and Blake DeWitt(notes).
Hong-Chih Kuo(notes) (2-1) pitched the eighth and Broxton got three outs for his 15th save in 17 chances—on his own bobblehead night. He fanned Pujols on a slider in the dirt—Pujols checked his swing and the umpire ruled a strike.
“We had a one-run lead and I just had to go out there and make pitches,” Broxton said. “We’ve just got to keep playing hard. It ain’t over yet.”
Cardinals right fielder Ryan Ludwick(notes) kept the game scoreless in the seventh with a perfect one-hop throw to catcher Yadier Molina(notes), who had an extra second to brace himself for the collision with DeWitt as he tried to score from second on Martin’s one-out single. DeWitt came in with both arms up, but Molina hung onto the ball as he was sent sprawling.
Carpenter gave up six hits, struck out five and walked one. Kuroda allowed four hits, struck out six and walked one.
“That’s a quality lineup over there that have pretty tough at-bats on you, but I was able to execute,” Carpenter said. “Obviously, the play Luddy made was a real big play in the game. We came out and took a tough one last night, and we took another tough one tonight.”
NOTES: Los Angeles improved to 14-6 in one-run games, tops in the NL. … Dodgers RHP Vicente Padilla(notes) threw 61 pitches in 4 2-3 innings of his second rehab start with Class-A Inland Empire, allowing one run and three hits, striking out four and walking one. … The Dodgers activated LHP George Sherrill(notes) from the disabled list and optioned RHP Jon Link(notes) to Triple-A Albuquerque. Sherrill had been out since May 24 with tightness in his back. … The Cardinals optioned RHP P.J. Walters(notes) to Triple-A Memphis and recalled RHP Fernando Salas(notes) from their top farm club.