Baseball / Sports

Dodgers strike early, overpower Cardinals

LOS ANGELES--The Los Angeles Dodgers might not be playing like this in October, or playing at all, for that matter.

But over the last three days, they have shown they can play with the St. Louis Cardinals.

With Clayton Kershaw scheduled to pitch in the series finale Sunday, the Dodgers already have two victories in a four-game series against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season.

Their victory Saturday was a resounding 9-1 thrashing at Dodger Stadium that included their highest-scoring inning of the season, a six-run second inning against Lance Lynn. They finished the game with 15 hits.

The Dodgers won the opener, 1-0, and lost the second game, 3-1.

The Dodgers have more than held their own against the National League's standard bearers with minimal contributions from Hanley Ramirez, something they couldn't do last year in the NL Championship Series. The Cardinals won that series in six games, as Ramirez was ineffective while he played with fractured ribs.

Ramirez was a late addition to the lineup Saturday after sitting out the previous four games because of an irritated right shoulder. He singled, walked and scored a run in his two plate appearances, but was replaced in the top of the third inning at shortstop by Miguel Rojas.

Ramirez felt tightness in his left calf, the Dodgers said.

Manager Don Mattingly said he was uncertain of the severity of Ramirez's injury, but that he expected to know more Sunday. Ramirez declined to speak to reporters.

As well as the Dodgers have played without Ramirez, Mattingly made clear he thinks they need Ramirez, particularly to make a run in October.

"When you get to the playoffs, good pitching gets pretty much everybody out," Mattingly said. "You only have a couple guys on every team that hit good pitching. That's why the scores get so low."

Ramirez wasn't the only player to go down in the second inning. Utility man Justin Turner did too.

Turner is expected to land on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left hamstring.

Turner was removed from the game immediately after he drove in the first run in the Dodgers' six-run inning.

"Every team has to deal with this stuff, but Turner has been extremely valuable for us," starting pitcher Zack Greinke said. "There's not many guys that can play all the infield spots and still put up quality at-bats. His at-bats are even above quality, I think. So far this year, I'd put him in the top tier of utility guys in the game. You just can't replace that."

Turner was particularly valuable in the absence of third baseman Juan Uribe, who returned from the disabled list Thursday.

Uribe was put on the disabled list May 21. Since then, Turner has started 22 games at third base and batted .365.

Even with Uribe back, Turner was expected to be a frequent presence in the lineup, as Mattingly said he didn't want to overuse the 35-year-old Uribe.

"We'll still be careful," Mattingly said. "I'm sure we'll bring somebody that gives us flexibility at short and third. We're going to have the flexibility to not throw Papi out there every day."

Possible replacements for Turner include Erisbel Arruebarrena and Carlos Triunfel, who are with triple-A Albuquerque.

Dodgers 9, Cardinals 1

KEY MOMENT: The Dodgers blew open the game in the second inning, when they scored six runs to extend their lead to 7-0. In one 10-batter stretch, nine Dodgers reached base, including Andre Ethier, who did so twice. But the inning was as painful as it was productive. Justin Turner strained his left hamstring on a run-scoring double, and third base coach Lorenzo Bundy sustained a calf injury on the same play. Hanley Ramirez injured his left calf as he scored on a single by Matt Kemp.

ON THE MOUND: Zack Greinke made what was arguably his best start in the more than a month, limiting the Cardinals to one run and four hits over seven innings. He struck out 10 and walked none. The Dodgers were leading, 7-0, when he served up a solo home run to Matt Carpenter in the third inning. This marked the 32nd consecutive game for the Dodgers in which their starting pitcher walked two or fewer batters. The streak is the longest in the National League since at least 1914, according to Stats LLC.

AT THE PLATE: Dee Gordon remained on a hot streak, going three for five with two doubles, a run scored and a run batted in. Four other Dodgers had multi-hit games: Yasiel Puig, Kemp, Ethier and A.J. Ellis.

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