Morning Juice: Pujols hit in 15th wins game Dodgers let slip away

This and every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts in St. Louis, where the Cardinals and Dodgers might have played the National League's game of the year so far. Although, as Tony La Russa pointed out, it lasted so long and had so many turning points, it seemed like a whole series.

Game of the Day

Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (15 inn.)

The Fredbird seat: Albert Pujols(notes) singled in the winning run with two outs against Jeff Weaver(notes), which prevented the game from topping the five-hour mark and hands the Dodgers their fourth consecutive loss (VIDEO).

Outscoring L.A. 16-1, the Cardinals dominated the first two games of the series — which could be a playoff preview — but the Dodgers made them break a sweat in this one only to lose control at least twice. (And that's being nice.)

The Cards rallied with single runs to tie the score in the ninth (with two outs against closer Jonathan Broxton(notes)) and again in the 11th. Both teams got great starting pitching performances, especially by the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw(notes), and both teams threw out runners at the plate in extras. This game had a little bit of everything, including sparkling defense from — let me double check this — yes, Manny Ramirez(notes).

Mannywood saved the moment twice, particularly in making a spectacular grab at the fence to rob, rob, rob Brendan Ryan(notes) of a winning extra-base hit — it probably wouldn't have gone over — in the 10th (VIDEO).

Because it's Manny, who sometimes plays his position with his glove on his head (right), the catch fooled most people in the park. Ryan wasn't sure what happened until he saw Ramirez take the ball from his glove and try to give it to the crowd as a souvenir.

"My heart dropped into my stomach when I saw him throw the ball back into the stands," Ryan said. "I felt nauseous."

Nauseated, technically, but Ryan couldn't have been nearly as sick as the Dodgers, who came in 49-0 when leading after eight innings. They blew leads after fumbling several chances to put the Cards away. The No. 3 offense in the NL stranded 15 runners.

"It stinks to lose a game you thought you had in the bag," said catcher Russell Martin(notes), who struck out with a runner at third and one out in the ninth.

• Kershaw allowed four hits and struck out seven over eight scoreless, but handed it over to Broxton in the ninth, who set down Pujols and Matt Holliday(notes) with apparent ease. The Cardinals were down to their final out with nothing cooking.

"I'll take 1-0 going into the ninth with Broxton as our closer," said Kershaw, who is 5-0 with an 0.79 ERA in his past nine starts.

"I'll take those chances 100 percent of the time."

But Broxton, who blew a save against the Cardinals in his major league debut four years ago to the day, repeated himself. He hung a breaking ball to Ryan Ludwick(notes), who singled to center and took second base on the next offering, a wild pitch. Ludwick scored on Colby Rasmus'(notes) broken-bat single that came on a 3-2 pitch.

(Sometimes, going to Broxton only works 60 percent of the time, every time.)

• In the 11th, the Dodgers went ahead 2-1 on Matt Kemp's(notes) sacrifice fly — Casey Blake(notes) barely beat Ludwick's throw from right — against the suddenly hittable Ryan Franklin(notes). Rather than using a pinch hitter with an insurance run in scoring position, Joe Torre stuck with pitcher Ramon Troncoso(notes) — who struck out.

• In the bottom of the 11th, Matt Holliday lined a single to left to put runners at the corners, but Ramirez saves a run for a moment and perhaps more by making a great stop to keep the ball from rolling to the corner.

• Troncoso caved to Ludwick, who hits an RBI single to make it 2-all. Hong-Chih "Status" Kuo wriggled out of further damage.

• In the 12th, Ludwick gets his man this time by nailing Ramirez at home on Blake's two-out single to right. Manny tries to slide around Yadier Molina(notes) rather than run him over.

• In the bottom of the 12th, Joe Thurston(notes) (right) doubled with one out, but an alert James Loney(notes) saw Thurston miss the first-base bag. The Dodgers appealed and umpires agreed. Yer out, Fuzzy Thurston!

• Brendan Ryan leads off the bottom of the 15th with a triple — Why wasn't Manny playing closer to the line? — but pinch-hitter Jason LaRue(notes) pops out and, one batter later, Ryan is thrown out at home after a grounder.

• Pujols finally ends the game with a line drive over the head of Matt Kemp, who was playing shallow and broke the wrong way.

"He hit that ball hard," Kemp said. "It one-hopped the wall. That ball stayed low. He and Holliday, those two hit line drives hard to judge, they hit it so darn hard."

• Blake Hawksworth (bird name playing with team named for a bird) delivered three shutout innings of relief for his first victory. Caw, caw!

"By my count, there were about three different games," La Russa said. "Heroics all over the ballpark on both sides."

* * *

Feelin' Rundown (keep 'em to less than 15):

Mariners 3, Blue Jays 2: Ryan-Rowland-Smith hyphen-ventilated his way to an Aussie No-Hitter for six innings, was denied and lost the lead, but got it back and beat Roy Halladay(notes), DDS.

Denied in his bid to ransom Halladay for all of Philly's farm system, the Phanatic's first born and the secret formula for steak sandwiches, J.P. Ricciardi will keep Doc and try to win in 2010. Halladay seems fine with this — he's just happy the trading deadline is almost past tense.

Cubs 12, Astros 0: Randy Wells(notes) or Colby Rasmus for NL Rookie of the Year. Who ya' got?

Angels 9, Indians 3: Cliff Lee(notes) says "Good-bye, Cleveland!" ... Howie Kendrick(notes) hitting like Howie Kendrick since returning from a demotion to Triple-A.

Giants 1, Pirates 0 (10 inn.): Jack Wilson(notes) was the Pittsburgh Pirates. And that kind of explains the whole 17 years without winning thing.

Orioles 7, Royals 3: Zack Greinke(notes) left with a 3-2 lead, putting the game in the hands of the Royals bullpen. You can pretty much figure out what happened next.

Marlins 6, Braves 3: Josh Johnson(notes) pitched OK and hit a three-run homer, the second of his career, which was the difference in the game.

"I thought it was gone when I hit it, but I kept running just in case," Johnson said.

Yankees 6, Rays 2: Not unlike the Emperor making a visit to the Death Star II in "Return of the Jedi," Tampa resident George Steinbrenner stops by the Trop to check the progress of Joba Chamberlain(notes) and the Yankees.

Everything's fine, just fine!

Not so much for Our Rays, who dropped two of three and look more and more like non-repeaters in the World Series. It's the lack of Jonny Gomes(notes).

Rockies at Mets, pdd. (rain): Let's play two! Say, do any of you know how one might go about getting a job in baseball?

Athletics 8, Red Sox 6: It's not Friday afternoon yet, Roy Halladay!

Padres 7, Reds 1: Mat Latos(notes) doesn't need another "t" to strike your but(t) out. Padres win consecutive games for the first time in ... a month???

Tigers 13, Rangers 5: Big League Stew's Curtis Granderson(notes) set the tone (I think it was sepia) with a leadoff homer. Tigers pitchers, mostly Justin Verlander(notes), went Nolan Ryan on everybody and finished with 13 strikeouts.

Brewers 7, Nationals 5: Casey McGehee(notes) bails out the Crew with a pinch-hit, go-ahead home run against the dreaded Nats — the Scourge of Milwaukee, the Slayers of Sausage.

Twins 3, White Sox 2: Efficient, like a Motel 6, the Twins do just enough to sweep and jump ahead of the White Sox as Detroit's main competition in the AL Central. The Metrodome's fake surface took a bite out of Alexei Ramirez's(notes) real ankle. It's just a sprain, they think.

D-backs 4, Phillies 0: It takes the acquisition of a Cy Young winner to knock J.A. Happ(notes) out of the rotation. He'll be back (in "Happy I'm not a Jay").

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