LOS ANGELES -- During the regular season, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina hit .373 with runners in scoring position. That's one reason why he's a candidate to be selected National League most valuable player next month.
During the postseason, though, he's 0 for 4 with a strikeout and has hit into two double plays with runners in scoring position. And that's one reason why the Cardinals are going back to St. Louis one victory shy of the NL pennant.
Molina twice had a chance to break open Game 5 of the Championship Series on Wednesday, batting with the bases loaded and one out in the first inning and with runners at first base and third base and one out in the third inning. Both times he bounced into inning-ending double plays and the Los Angeles Dodgers went on to win, 6-4, sending the best-of-seven series back to St. Louis for Game 6 on Friday.
"Right now I'm frustrated," Molina said. "I got the chance to help my team to win and I didn't come through. Sometimes you're going to have bad games. Today was my bad game."
But Molina wasn't alone. During the regular season, the Cardinals hit .330 with runners in scoring position, the best mark since the start of the expansion era in 1961. They're hitting .250 in the same situation in the postseason, and that's after going five for 10 on Wednesday.
"What happened in the regular season was something that was amazing. Just to be able to come through as a team like that, it's not that easy," said outfielder Carlos Beltran, who is batting .176 in the NLCS despite hitting a run-scoring triple and scoring once Wednesday. "Today there's no doubt we had some opportunities. We just couldn't come through. And we had the perfect guys hitting. The guys that have been hot for us all year long, the guys that have come through for us."
In the first inning, after starter Zack Greinke loaded the bases on two hits and a walk, Molina got ahead in the count 2 and 1, then grounded to third base to start a double play.
"That was a turning point right there," Molina said. "If we score early, that could make a difference. But it's part of baseball. He made pitches and he got me out."
Two innings later, after the Cardinals had rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the score, Molina batted with the go-ahead run at third base. This time he worked the count to 3 and 1 before hitting a grounder to second base to start another double play.
Just lucky, Greinke said.
"With Molina, there is nothing you could do that you know is going to work," Greinke said. "He can adjust to anything. I made a good pitch, but still even with a good pitch he can hurt you. It just worked out."
And although that might have been the turning point, though, it wasn't the endpoint. That came in the ninth inning and Molina again was in the middle of things.
The Cardinals began the inning trailing, 6-2, against closer Kenley Jansen. But they pushed one run across and had a runner on base when Molina stepped in. He struck out on four pitches.
So the Cardinals, who went into Game 5 with the same 3-1 lead they had after four games in last year's NLCS with the San Francisco Giants, go home still needing one more victory to reach the World Series.
They never got that victory last year.
Molina dismissed suggestions history will repeat itself.
"I don't know why you guys continue talking about last year," he said. "It's different. We're facing another team this year.
"We're still in good position. We're going home and we're still in good position."
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