Baseball / Sports

Sweep eludes Cardinals after loss to Dodgers

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals scored more runs off Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw on Sunday night at Busch Stadium than anybody else had in nearly two months.

They touched up Kershaw, who had given up a total of five runs in his last eight starts, all victories, for three runs in seven innings, two of them stunningly coming in the sixth on a game-tying home run by light-hitting Peter Bourjos.

But the Dodgers pushed across a run in the ninth off Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal and salvaged the finale of a three-game series, 4-3, before a sellout crowd of 45,255. That included Tampa Bay stars David Price and Evan Longoria, who tweeted photos of themselves sitting in the outfield after they had arrived in town in advance of the next series here.

Adrian Gonzalez's two-out single scored pinch runner Miguel Rojas with the go-ahead run after Hanley Ramirez had been hit, with two strikes, for the second time in the game. Ramirez, who was hit in the left shoulder the first time and on the left hand the second, had to leave the game, with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly arguing that Rosenthal should have had to leave, too.

A warning had been issued to both sides earlier after Kershaw had plunked the Cardinals' Matt Holliday following Ramirez being hit for the first time. The Dodgers also remember Ramirez being hit by Joe Kelly in the ribs -- he suffered a fracture that compromised him the remainder of the series -- in the first inning of the first league championship game last year.

"We're trying to use both sides of the plate," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "I think everybody could tell we're not trying to hit anybody. You've got to make good pitches against a good hitter."

A.J. Ellis started the ninth with a double against Rosenthal (1-5), but Rosenthal appeared as if he would pitch out of trouble as he fanned Justin Turner and Dee Gordon before hitting Ramirez and being beaten by Gonzalez.

"A bad pitch to a good hitter," said Rosenthal, who was working for the third day in a row. "I feel bad letting the team down. One pitch away. But that's the way the game rolls."

As for hitting Ramirez, Rosenthal said, "They're going to be cheating a little bit ... so anything inside you're going to be flirting with maybe getting something on the hands. It's happened before, but I definitely wasn't trying to go that far inside. You've always got to come inside to be effective.

"In that situation, everybody in the ballpark knows that's not what we're trying to do. Two strikes and two outs, a guy on second in a tie game. Hopefully, he's all right and it's nothing serious."

The Cardinals had had four innings of scoreless relief from Jason Motte, Shelby Miller, Randy Choate and Seth Maness, with Maness pitching out of a first-and-third, one-out spot. This spotless bullpen work came after a spotty start from Carlos Martinez, who had another disappointing four-inning outing in which he issued two critical walks, both of which scored in a two-run third after Allen Craig had doubled in a run against Kershaw in the second.

Cardinals center fielder Bourjos snatched a hit from Gonzalez with a shoetop grab before tumbling to the ground for the second out of the third inning.

But the two walks previously in the inning wound up leading to the two runs, plated by singles from Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

Martinez loaded the bases in the fourth before retiring Gonzalez on a fly out to end the inning after he had hit Ramirez. Matheny had seen enough.

"He looked like he was under control," said Matheny.

But that began to change, said Matheny, with the leadoff walk to Kershaw in the third.

"It looked like (Martinez) tried to do a little more, something he's always going to be guilty of," said Matheny. "He thinks more is better. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it takes him out of a rhythm and then he got out of whack and we needed to get him out of there."

But the Cardinals then caught up in the sixth on the homer by Bourjos, who entered the game hitting .224, although he had been three for eight against Kershaw.

Matt Carpenter worked an 11-pitch walk off Kershaw, similar to his key at-bat against Kershaw in Game 6 of the league championship series here last year.

Bourjos drove his third homer into the left-center-field seats to even the score at 3-3.

Kershaw hadn't allowed as many as three runs in a game since May 28 in his last loss, a 3-2 setback to Cincinnati.

Mark Ellis singled to start the Cardinals' seventh and was moved up on Tony Cruz's sacrifice. But Jon Jay, who just had come into the game, was called out on a 3-2 pitch and Ellis, who had strayed toward third, was picked off second by catcher A.J. Ellis as Carpenter swung through a pitch.

Ellis said, "I knew Matt (Kemp) was playing real shallow in left field and I was trying to get a good jump.

Matheny said, "He lost his footing and then it was tough getting back. But we'll take the aggressive mistakes more so than the guys on their heels waiting to make one."

Bourjos stirred up trouble again by singling with one out in the eighth and stealing both second and third, but Jhonny Peralta and Matt Adams failed to deliver him.

Bourjos, however, left his mark with Matheny. "He had a great day," said Matheny.

"And don't forget that play he made coming in. He made that look easy. There aren't many center fielders in the league who make that play."

Ellis, who has seen Bourjos in the American League, too, said, "Bourjos is a weapon when he gets on base. His speed is dynamic and his play in center field is great. He's one of those guys you watch and just wait for that day when he's going to explode and turn into a monster ballplayer. I think he's inching closer to that."

Bourjos, who lost the center field job after a poor start this year, said, "I feel my swing is in a good place. I feel it's the best it's ever been."

The Busch crowd, which was standing, had clamored for a curtain call from Bourjos after the home run, but Bourjos didn't bound out of the dugout.

"It was good feeling," he said. But he added, "I don't think I've had a whole lot for the fans to get excited about."

(c)2014 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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